Inspiring Loyalty and Optimal Team-Based Care

In an era where the average person has 12 jobs in his/her lifetime,(1) and stays at each job for about 4 years,(2) four members of the Shelbourne Knee Center Team have been working with K. Donald Shelbourne, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Shelbourne Knee Center, for 30+ years. Denise Bawel started working with Dr. Shelbourne in 1982, Tinker Gray, MA, ELS, in 1984, Jean Fouts, RN, BSN, in 1987 and Lee Linenberg in 1989. Newer hires tend to stick around, too.

Bawel, Gray, Fouts and Linenberg started working with Dr. Shelbourne when he was an orthopedic surgeon at the Methodist Sports Medicine Center. When he founded Shelbourne Knee Center in 2004, they went with him.

All four team members have spent all or nearly all of their careers working with Dr. Shelbourne. They’ve stayed because of his focus on always doing what’s best for patients, including continually improving knee treatments, and his deep respect for the members of his team.

Respect for Team Members  

“Dr. Shelbourne treats his employees like he treats his patients, with a lot of respect,” says Bawel, the business manager. “He hires people who will do a good job, respects our ideas, and wants our input.”

Bawel has been working with Dr. Shelbourne since she earned her business degree 38 years ago. She helped him to set up the business side of his first orthopedic practice at Methodist Sports Medicine Center, and later to develop the business infrastructure for Shelbourne Knee Center. “Everyone steps up to the plate, does the best job possible, and continually makes improvements for Dr. Shelbourne,” says Bawel, who continues to handle business management for Shelbourne Knee Center.

Research-Based Patient Care

Gray was a physical education and health teacher and a women’s volleyball, basketball and track coach at Warren Central High School in Indianapolis when she first met Dr. Shelbourne. When Gray’s athletes injured their knees, she sent them to Dr. Shelbourne.

While looking for the next step in her career, an old college knee injury started bothering Gray. She turned to Dr. Shelbourne for help. During the visit, he told her that her knee would be fine and offered her a job helping him with the research program he had recently started.

Dr. Shelbourne was tracking patient outcomes and studying factors related to those outcomes to determine how to improve treatment for knee problems. Gray took the job, where she developed research databases, analyzed data and disseminated results.

Today, the research program covers more than 37 years of data on 13,000 patients.

“With our huge dataset, we can figure out what helps people do well or what causes problems,” says Gray. “I help Dr. Shelbourne convey key research nuggets and share our information with the world.”

Dr. Shelbourne has inspired Gray to always do what’s best for the patients and to continually seek answers to questions about what works best. “I’m really proud to be part of the Shelbourne Knee Center and the machine that’s been put in place to help patients,” says Gray.

Optimal Surgical Treatment

Fouts, a surgical nurse and manager of Shelbourne Knee Center, began working with Dr. Shelbourne during her first job following nursing school at IU Health Methodist Hospital. After Fouts assisted Dr. Shelbourne on some cases, he asked her to be his regular surgical nurse. Now Fouts splits her time between assisting Dr. Shelbourne in the OR and clinic and handling administrative work.        

“I love being able to work side by side with Dr. Shelbourne as he does the cases,” says Fouts. Dr. Shelbourne is an excellent surgeon and we always do what’s best for each patient.” Fouts calls Dr. Shelbourne “a person first and a doctor second,” and appreciates the respect he shows to her and all other team members.

Individualized Patient Care

Linenberg met Dr. Shelbourne 45 years ago when her husband played rugby with him.

When scarring from patellar re-alignment on both knees as a teenager led to pain and limited range of motion, Linenberg went to see Dr. Shelbourne, who performed arthroscopic surgery to relieve these problems. Three years after that, Linenberg was working at the front desk of Methodist Sports Medicine Clinic when she heard that Dr. Shelbourne was looking for a clinical assistant. She applied and was hired.

For 31 years, Linenberg has been Dr. Shelbourne’s clinical assistant. She also assists Rodney Benner, MD, another orthopedic surgeon at Shelbourne Knee Center. Linenberg splits her time between serving as a medical scribe during clinic for the two orthopedic surgeons and assisting them during arthroscopic surgery.

“I like working with doctors who care about their patients,” says Linenberg. “Shelbourne Knee Center is not a factory. We treat each patient as an individual.”

Like Dr. Shelbourne, all four team members grew up in Indiana. Bawel, Fouts and Linenberg also graduated from Indiana University, where Dr. Shelbourne earned his medical degree.

For more information about the Shelbourne Knee Center team, call 888-FIX-KNEE or email


  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Number of Jobs, Labor Market Experience, and Earnings Growth: Results From a National Longitudinal Survey." Accessed June 2, 2020.
  2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Employee Tenure Summary." Accessed June 2, 2020.