One of the best physicians to care for Nevada’s injured workers died recently following a long battle with cancer. I first met Dr. Maureen Mackey when I was working as an attorney for the State Industrial Insurance System, and she was employed as a physical rehabilitation doctor for the Jean Hanna Clark Rehabilitation Center in the building now occupied by the dental school on Charleston Boulevard in Las Vegas.
Dr. Mackey was particularly known for her extraordinary compassion when treating people with traumatic brain injuries and spinal injuries that prevented them from ever returning to any kind of employment after a work accident. When she left the JHCRC to open her own medical practice at a shabby little office on the corner of Sahara and Eastern, she continued to treat many of those permanently and totally disabled injured workers. I know that she didn’t get paid much, if anything, for continuing to care for many of them. That made it impossible to decline when Dr. Mackey called to ask if I could help one of her homeless or brain-injured patients who needed legal help for free.
She had one "good" chair for visiting lawyers who didn’t want to ruin their suits on her ratty old chairs when their clients were rated for impairments. Regardless of what injury she was rating, Dr. Mackey always gave the injured worker an eye exam, and she always scolded those people who were neglecting their health. She wasn’t liked by everyone because she spoke her mind, and she didn’t back down when she thought she was right.
I remember one rating exam when my client, who had three failed back surgeries, asked her whether he would ever get better. This client had correctly guessed that Dr. Mackey was someone who would tell him the truth. Dr. Mackey looked him in the eye and said, "No, only prayers will help you now. Shall we pray together?" The client smiled and said, "Sure." Dr. Mackey, who was a bit overweight and with bad knees, then held the client’s hand, ordered me to kneel (as I was the only one in the room who could kneel), and she said a prayer aloud for the client. We could use some more doctors like her.