While Darryl Tannenbaum completed his medical training in Michigan, he considered 75 job opportunities across the country before deciding to join Southern Indiana Orthopedics as an orthopedic physician and surgeon.
Tannenbaum had been undecided whether to pursue a career in private practice or accept an academic position. But when Tannenbaum and his wife, Suzanne, visited Columbus in 1997, they were captivated by the city’s beautiful architecture.
“The community was very good with my wife. My kids were happy,” Tannenbaum said of his early years in Columbus. “I never reevaluated academics.”
While working, Tannenbaum’s devotion to his family was evident in the photos, school drawings and newspaper clippings he pasted on all four walls of his office at Marr Road and 10th Street in Columbus.
One photo showed their children, ages 2 and 3, taken shortly after the Tannenbaums moved to Columbus in 1997. Brendan, now 28, is a medical student in Philadelphia. Nick, 27, is an actor in Los Angeles.
“I just never knocked anything down. This has been my whole life for 25 years,” Tannenbaum said, looking proudly from one section of the wall to another.
The Tannenbaums quickly became involved in the Columbus community, with particular programs that benefited children. Suzanne Tannenbaum was on the board of directors of the Kidscommons Children’s Museum when it moved from inside The Commons to its current stand-alone location across Washington Street.
During a 2005 “shaver fund” event, Tannenbaum and two others agreed to shave their heads onstage during the organization’s annual Mardi Gras when the group achieved that year’s $10,000 goal.
And at work, the Harvard Medical School honors graduate helps people in Columbus and nearby communities improve their mobility and quality of life. Over more than 25 years, Tannenbaum has completed nearly 5,000 knee replacements and 3,000 hip replacements, as well as repairing patients’ ankles, elbows, feet, hands and shoulders.
Tannenbaum specializes in the use of state-of-the-art techniques for hip and knee replacements. Eleven months ago, the board-certified joint replacement surgeon performed the first robotically assisted total knee replacement ROSA Knee in Columbus.
Dr. Thomas Marshall, who launched Southern Indiana Orthopedics in 1976 with Dr. Ronald Bennett, recalled his first impressions of Tannenbaum when he was hired.
“I was anxious. He was well-trained and interested in coming to a small town and working,” said Marshall, who retired from the practice in 2014 but still helps out at the urgent care clinic.
“He had a particular interest in doing joint replacement surgery, which we wanted him to do,” said Marshall, who promoted Tannenbaum to partner after a year.
“He proceeded to hone his skills and put some innovative ideas into practice,” Marshall said. “He was very hardworking and cared about his patients and took care of his patients. You can’t ask for much more than that.”
Having initially entered college to be a biochemist, Tannenbaum, also a college basketball player, said he enjoyed the science courses he took in college, which led him to orthopedics.
“It fulfilled my interests in science, sports and working with my hands,” Tannenbaum said of her chosen profession. “You have to build a foundation to put in a hip or knee replacement. I liked to use my hands,” he said.
He referred to orthopedic surgeons as carpenters who work with people because they use tools such as hammers, saws, screwdrivers, chisels, and drills.
Tannenbaum has also helped patients in the field of sports medicine.
The doctor started running for exercise and fun in 2009 at age 44, believing he needed to pay more attention to his own health.
Tannenbaum began running four laps at a time on the Northside Middle School track, a total distance mile, and went from there. Seven months later, Tannenbaum was running her first 26.2-mile marathon in Austin, Texas.
“I put my mind to it,” Tannenbaum said matter-of-factly of her interest in long-distance running, then raised her aspirations.
Tannenbaum went on to run in the World Marathon Majors, consisting of renowned marathon races in Chicago (2010), New York (2011), Boston (2011 and 2012), London (2013) and Tokyo (2014). He also ran in the Antarctica Marathon in 2015.
“After people do the World Marathon Majors, they do the Seven Continent Club,” he said, also joining that running fraternity.
Having run marathons on the continents of North America, Europe, Asia and Antarctica, Tannenbaum joined the Seven Continents Club by running marathons in Africa in 2016 and South America and New Zealand in 2018. Less than 400 people at the world have done it. .
Tannenbaum’s next career achievement will be completing the marathon Grand Slam by running on the icy surface of the Arctic Ocean at the North Pole Marathon in April, in which fewer than 150 people have participated.
His personal best marathon time is 3:48:41 in Tokyo in 2014. Tannenbaum attributes his pursuit of marathon milestones to his goal-oriented behavior, which he said began to manifest at age 5 when he was collecting baseball cards, which he still does.
Tannenbaum used the proceeds from his sports card collection to pay for his college and medical studies and to buy his wife’s engagement ring.
“It’s just who I am,” Tannenbaum said of her driven approach to accomplishing things in life. “If you’re going to do it, do it. Do not hold back.
When their eldest son, Brendan, began to show great potential as a junior tennis player, the Tannenbaums recommitted themselves to helping their sons achieve their own personal success.
Beginning in 2006, they established a second home in Indianapolis and enrolled their two children at Park Tudor, an independent private school with a highly touted tennis program. Brendan became a state tennis champion at Park Tudor, graduating in 2013 and played tennis all four years at Dartmouth College, earning twice Ivy League recognition. Meanwhile, his other son Nick excelled in lacrosse and graduated from Park Tudor in 2014, later attending the University of Michigan.
what you expect
The Tannenbaums maintained residences in both Columbus and Indianapolis for eight years, until 2014, when they sold their Columbus home. Now, Tannenbaum, who turns 58 next month, is leaving her only post-college professional home in Columbus to retire and have a chance to do something more with her life.
It is a vocation that has weighed on him since before he decided to come to Colón.
As a resident physician in the mid-1990s at the University of Michigan, Tannenbaum set the surgical schedule and assisted with joint replacements for veterans at the VA Hospital in Ann Arbor.
At that time, the wait for a joint replacement through the VA was about a year.
“When I would call them, they were usually all happy,” Tannenbaum said.
But when Tannenbaum reached out to the family of an Ann Arbor patient in June 1996 to inform them that his turn had come, the veteran’s wife explained that her husband had unfortunately died while awaiting his knee replacement.
“That had a profound impact on me and throughout my career,” Tannenbaum said. “I knew that I always wanted to come back and help veterans before I retired. I feel like I owe it to them.”
Starting in February, Tannenbaum will begin a post-retirement position as an orthopedic surgeon and will split his time between VA facilities in Indianapolis and Phoenix, where the Tannenbaums have had a second home since 2016.
It will do joint revision and replacement surgeries on local veterans who have had complications from previous surgeries, something the VA in Indianapolis had not been able to offer, Tannenbaum said.
Tannenbaum hopes to improve the capacity and availability of joint replacement surgery for veterans in Indiana and Arizona, estimating that he still has five to 10 good years as a surgeon ahead of him.
Andy Bulla, Tannenbaum’s physician’s assistant in Columbus for the past 16 years, has also taken a job in the orthopedics department at the Indianapolis VA medical center. Bulla will help veterans prepare for joint replacement surgeries in their new role.
If Tannenbaum can increase surgery volume by 50 to 100 percent, he believes the improved services in Indianapolis and Phoenix could be doubled in as many as 30 additional geographic markets serving military veterans.
“So you’ve made some big differences,” he said.
But starting a new path comes with the bittersweet reality of leaving behind the people he has worked with in Columbus for 25 years.
That includes Southern Indiana Orthopedics founder Marshall, office manager Sharon Fischer, operating room nurse Julie Clingan, programmer Vickie Roberts and Columbus Regional Hospital operating room nurse Cindy Hotz, who attended the first and last surgery of Tannenbaum in Columbus.
“It’s been very profound for me to have those relationships,” Tannenbaum said. “It has been a privilege for me to care for all these people: families in Columbus and the surrounding communities. I’m really going to miss that. This has been a great place for me and my family. It’s been like that since I came to town in the summer of 1997. It’s a little scary to leave.”
Darryl A. Tannenbaum
Hometown: Ellenville, NY, near Buffalo, where he was born.
Home: Former Columbus resident who now resides in Indianapolis
Family: Wife of 32 years, Suzanne; sons Brendan, 28, medical student, from Philadelphia; and Nick, 27, actor, from Los Angeles.
Education: Ellenville (NY) High School, valedictorian; Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, BS, Biochemistry, 1983-1987; Harvard Medical School, MD, 1987-1992; Internship at the University of Michigan Health System, general surgery residency, 1992-1993; University of Michigan Health System, residency in orthopedic surgery, 1993-1997.
Career: orthopedic physician and surgeon, orthopedics of southern Indiana, 1997-2022; director, Columbus Regional Health Joint and Spine Center, 2009-2022; United States Orthopedic Mission to Haiti, 2010.
Medical Affiliations: American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, American Medical Association, Indiana Orthopedic Society, American Athletic Medical Association, American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons.