‘Moose’ of Westerly Hospital Loves the Healing Arts

Story & photo by Anna Maria Trusky

Moose Gilbert of Pawcatuck loves helping patients heal at the Wound Clinic at Westerly Hospital.

When Moose Gilbert was born, a nun at the hospital took one look at him and said, “That’s not a baby — that’s a moose!” He was a beefy bundle of joy all right, and he grew up to be a pretty brawny guy. But the biggest thing about Moose is his heart, which is obvious to any patient who receives his services at the Westerly Wound Clinic at Westerly Hospital.
As Director of the Wound Clinic and Chief Physical Therapist at the hospital, Moose treats between 30 and 40 patients daily, not counting inpatients. He is committed to helping even the most challenging cases attain a full recovery — like the older gentleman who was close to losing a leg due to a severe injury 10 years ago. Moose and the team at the hospital saved that leg, and today often Moose sees the former patient out running. “That’s a great feeling,” said the certified wound specialist with pride.
Moose is in his 20th year at Westerly Hospital. It was his first job after finishing his undergrad studies in premed/medical therapeutic rehabilitation at Springfield College and graduate program combining wound/trauma care, and sports/orthopedic medicine at Long Island University’s Allied Health Campus in Brooklyn. “I felt that this combination would make me a better clinician,” Moose explained.
Moose was absolutely right — and his complement of skills were brought to bear as never before when he treated 22-year-old Marine Corps Sergeant Justin Clough of Stonington five years ago. Justin was hit by a sniper in Fallujah, leaving him with a severe exit wound and in need of lengthy orthopedic rehabilitation. Moose worked with Justin, who was awarded a Purple Heart, guiding him along the difficult road to recovery and helping to heal the young man’s spirit and body.
“When Justin’s wounds healed and he finished rehab, I got an idea that I thought would benefit him,” Moose recalled. “I was an assistant coach for the varsity football team at Stonington High School, and I knew Justin had played football. I got permission from the Stonington coach A.J. Massengale to bring in Justin to help coach the team. The kids were in awe of him and his face really lit up when he worked with them—and that year, Stonington beat Westerly.”
After assistant coaching for nearly a decade, Moose had to stop because of time constraints. He and his wife Jenny are busy with sons Connor, 15, and Kale Sean, 14, and daughter Gracie, 11. Also, in addition to being at the wound clinic full time, Moose works nights doing sports medicine at Independence Physical Therapy in Mystic and serves as a wound specialist with VNS Home Health Services in Narragansett, which is affiliated with Westerly Hospital.
Moose loves his work and his workplace and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. “There is something special about Westerly Hospital,” he said. “Like the time I was walking by a patient’s room and saw Jeff Christian, one of our vascular surgeons, taking the time to set the patient’s clock. The dedication and competence here are out of this world, and the physicians, surgeons, and nurses are top notch. We are all a team. I am very proud of this hospital and the people here.”
We’re sure they’re proud of you, too, Moose –— and so are your patients!
“Moose has worked with me on several different things. He has an amazing gift, and his abilities are astounding,” said Jeff Cooper, a very satisfied patient from Point Judith, Rhode Island, in a separate interview.