The origin of the Shea Ear Clinic goes back to the opening of the Memphis Eye, Ear, Nose, and Throat Hospital at 1060 Madison Avenue in August of 1926. Dr. Louis Levyraised $300,000 through the sale of bonds to build the new facility. The hospital offered an eighteen-month combined residency in otolaryngology and ophthalmology, the only institution between St. Louis and New Orleans to offer such a program. In less than three years, the hospital became recognized for its achievement and was placed on the honor roll of the American College of Surgeons with one of the highest ratings of similar institutions in the United States.
..The equipment and patient care were highly praised by Dr. Franklin H. Martin, then director-general of the college. The hospital provided excellent care for the citizens of Memphis who were bothered by eye, ear, nose, and throat problems. Despite this, the hospital struggled financially throughout most of its existence due to the heavy burden of the many indigent patients for which it provided care. In 1930, control of the hospital was passed to a group of prominent Memphis doctors, that included Dr. Levy and Dr. John Shea, Senior. The facility was eventually sold to Methodist Hospital in 1942, who continued to operate it until 1966, when the patients were consolidated to the new Thomas wing at Methodist Hospital. Dr. John Shea, Jr. was by this time a very prominent and nationally known ear specialist, having developed the stapedectomy in 1956, which revolutionized the surgical treatment of otosclerosis, a common cause of conductive deafness. He bought the vacant hospital in April 1966, invested $300,000 in an extensive renovation, renamed it, and re-opened it one year later in 1967 as the Memphis Eye and Ear Hospital.
The new hospital boasted twenty-five beds, three operating rooms, an audiology department, offices, and research labs, and it flourished under the leadership of Dr. John Shea. In 1975, the hospital underwent an expansion and renovation, and the adjacent property at 1080 Madison was purchased. This building had formerly housed the Memphis Otologic Clinic and Memphis Foundation of Otology, but was renamed the Shea Clinic. A crosswalk was constructed to connect the 1060 and 1080Madison buildings. The hospital and clinic were very busy and successful, and patients flocked by the thousands from around the country and around the world to be seen by and operated on by Dr. Shea, particularly those with otosclerosis. Ever the visionary, Dr. Shea sensed that the future of medicine, and particularly otolaryngology, was moving toward outpatient care, and that in Memphis, as in many other American cities, expansion was moving away from downtown andmore toward suburbia.
In 1982, he sold the Memphis Eye and Ear Hospital and old Shea Clinic facilities to Humana Corporation, while he searched for a location to build a new, modern Shea Clinic. The property at 6133 Poplar Pike, in the heart of the new east Memphis medical center, became thelocation for the embodiment of that dream. Construction of a new three-story, state of the art facility began, which would include a clinic, diagnostic audiology department, exam rooms, an ambulatory surgery center on the second floor, offices, research laboratories, and more, all under one roof. Additionally, a hotel, now the Residence Inn by Marriott, was constructed next door, and connected by a short crosswalk, providing outstanding convenience for the large number of Shea Clinic patients who had travelled from some distance away to come to the clinic.
The new facility opened in January 1986, and was an unqualified success. Over the years, the Shea Clinic has undergone a number of personnel changes, updates, and renovations, including new equipment, two CT scanners, a temporal bone laboratory, and a large, modern hearing aid department on the third floor. Dr. John Emmett joined the staff in 1976, and Dr. Greg Staffel in 1998, bringing general otolaryngology, nasal and sinus surgery, and facial plastic surgery into the Shea Clinic’s menu of services. Dr. Paul Shea joined the staff in 2002, with an interest in hearing loss, dizziness, chronic otitis media, cochlear implantation, and lateral skull base surgery. Dr. Christopher Hall and Dr. Victoria Lim joined the practice in 2018. With a staff of five doctors and over thirty employees, the Shea Clinic continues to be a world-renowned center of excellence and innovation in otology and otolaryngology, and is focused on continuing that tradition well into the future.