Top Doctors: The Reigning Champs
We've asked local physicians to choose the Top Doctors four times. These reigning champs have earned a place on every single list.
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Dr. Pierre Clothiaux
Orthopedic Surgery, CoxHealth, Ferrell-Duncan Clinic
Some people spend their lives collecting the things that are, for one reason or another, important to them. They are little treasures that we hold dear and (in the nicest sense of the word) horde for ourselves or for posterity. Dr. Pierre Clothiaux is a collector. But his collection says more about his field than it does about him. It shows what orthopedic surgery is and where it was in the past. It's a collection of body parts, in a sense. Not the kind you're born with, but the kind you acquire when what you have gives up or gives out or gets hurt beyond the scope of what your own body can repair. Clothiaux collects the tools of his trade, and he's as passionate about it as a kid showing off his prized baseball card collection. You can see his pride when he tells you about the items he's kept since he started working in the field, the items that show the vast changes and improvements to orthopedics over the years. He's proud of his job and proud of what it does for the people who have to take those metal parts-those bits and pieces of makeshift bones and joints-and incorporate them into their own bodies, so they can live a comfortable and active life again.
Clothiaux, a four-time Top Doctors winner for orthopedic surgery, fell into his specialty (and into medicine in general) somewhat by accident. He had graduated from high school in Auburn, Alabama, and the best job he could find while going to college at Auburn University was as an orderly in a hospital operating room. While there, Clothiaux worked with an orthopedic surgeon who showed him the ropes and piqued his interest in a field that he had not previously explored. It was a job that exposed him to general surgery, plastic surgery and neurosurgery, but it was the rebuilding work of orthopedic surgery that spoke to him the most. At the time, total joint replacement was in its early stages, and Clothiaux was able to get in on the ground floor with developments in the technology that he says was about to explode. When the time came, he attended medical school at University of Alabama at Birmingham. Now he helps patients who range from young, active people with sports injuries to older, vital people whose joints have simply worn out to trauma cases that show up in the emergency room at all hours of the night, often from car and motorcycle accidents.
When he's not being a doctor, though, Clothiaux likes to get outside. He gardens, he bikes Springfield's back roads and greenways (especially the Frisco Highline), but mostly, he says, he does whatever his wife and three kids want to do when they spend time together. His son, Philip, is working on becoming an Eagle Scout, and Clothiaux is involved in his Boy Scout troop. The troop is a very outdoorsy one, Clothiaux says, and through it he's gotten the chance to see some of southern Missouri's prettiest landscapes and can tell you all about their differences-the limestone in this part of the state versus the pink granite farther east near the St. Francois Mountains. He's trekked all over the Ozarks-floating the rivers and backpacking on old trails in the St. Francois Mountains, seeing the view from Taum Sauk Tower (the highest point in Missouri) and camping in places such as the top of Proffit Mountain.
And it isn't just the view from the top of Missouri's mountains that spark pangs of nostalgia in this 50-year-old doctor. He remembers the changing view from the top of Cox South as well. When Clothiaux moved to Springfield in 1992, James River Expressway was finished but not yet opened, and from the top of CoxSouth he could see, well, nothing but darkness. Now, when he looks out over the city, he sees lights from Nixa to Ozark looking south. It's a sign of changing times and a growing city-one that this Alabama-turned-Missouri man has watched mature since he decided the Ozarks was where he wants to be.