Leo M. Cooney Jr., M.D. ’69, the Humana Foundation Professor of Geriatric Medicine, was honored this spring as the recipient of the annual David J. Leffell Prize for Clinical Excellence. Dean Robert J. Alpern, M.D., Ensign Professor of Medicine, presented the award at a ceremony in the Beaumont Room in the Sterling Hall of Medicine. Over the years Cooney adopted and refined an approach he jokingly called “low-tech medicine. I go to the bedside to examine, observe, take histories, and evaluate my patients, focusing on their mobility, activity, functions, and desires. I don’t focus a lot on lab tests and diagnostic imaging procedures.” He doesn’t dismiss the “high-tech approach,” which he admits is “helpful and important.” But he believes that over-reliance on technology can result in a break in the “essential connection between physician and patient,” a bond he says is “paramount” in high-quality health care.
Cooney is an attending physician at the Dorothy Adler Geriatric Assessment Center, and medical director of both the Yale Acute Care for the Elderly Unit at Yale-New Haven Hospital and the Yale-New Haven Nursing Home Practice. A past president of the American Geriatrics Society, he is passionate about helping elderly individuals attain the highest level of independence possible, and he has focused his research interests on efforts to ensure that health care resources are applied to the neediest patients.