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Dr. Romano was a surgeon that worked at County General Hospital in Chicago. He was portrayed by Paul McCrane from 1997 to 2003.
Dr. Robert "Rocket" Romano is introduced in the episode "Good Touch, Bad Touch" as a surgical attending sponsoring Elizabeth Corday's internship in the Chicago ER. Romano was a brilliant surgeon, but did not get along with the majority of the staff, except for Elizabeth Corday whose early quarreling and professional setbacks at Romano's hands such as discontinuing her fellowship had blossomed into a respected friendship over the years.
Dr. Romano was obnoxious and ambitious, and was eager to jump at the job of interim ER Chief to help weasel his way toward the top of the administrative ladder.
Dr. Maggie Doyle accuses Dr. Romano of sexual harrassment and when she asked Elizabeth to back up her claims, she decided not to after Romano blackmails Elizabeth about her relationship with Dr. Peter Benton.
Romano becomes the Acting ER Chief when Dr. Anspaugh mentions he cannot cope with being the Acting Chief as well as his other jobs much to the dismay of the ER staff.
Dr. Romano was hired as the new Chief of Staff, much to the dismay of the entire staff, but it was good news for Elizabeth because he promoted her to Associate Chief of Surgery. Kerry Weaver had originally backed him up for the job, backstabbing Mark Greene in the process and earning the permanent ER Chief position, but soon became disgusted with him after seeing his diabolical ways which included him suspending her later in the season after she treated a comatose, brain-damaged young woman without HMO approval.
He starts to grow fond of medical student Lucy Knight after she convinces him to do a heart operation on a patient on Christmas Eve. He is one of the doctors that treats Lucy after she is brutally stabbed by a schizophrenic patient. When Lucy dies from her injuries, he angrily kicks over a surgical tray.
When Peter Benton arranged for the surgery of a Medicare patient over Romano's objections, Romano fired Benton and then blacklisted Peter throughout the community, making it almost impossible for him to find a job in Chicago which forced Peter to come back and accept a daily call, no-benefits job from Romano.
After Peter impressed Romano by keeping his mouth shut and doing the job, Romano "rewarded" him with a raise and benefits but also manipulated him into taking on a new post related to affirmative action at County (but was then outmaneuvered when Benton got a talented African-American student a previously-denied interview, and the student was then accepted into medical school).
In addition, Romano stopped at nothing to fire Dr. Legaspi, a psychiatric attending and love interest of Kerry Weaver. The two both realized that she was being discriminated against for her homosexuality by Romano and Kerry came out of the closet to Romano when announcing she would defend Kim. In the next season, Kim moves to San Francisco and Romano surprisingly decided to keep Kerry's secret.
Dr. Romano continues to be arrogant and insensitive as ever, but he shows a soft side to Elizabeth when she struggles with Mark's decision to not continue with his brain tumor treatment.
At the beginning of the season, Dr. Romano lost his left arm when he backed into the tail rotor blades of a helicopter that was evacuating a patient after the smallpox outbreak. Dr. Kovač was able to save Romano's life, and surgeons were able to reattach Romano's arm.
Despite limitations in his recovery, Romano performed unauthorized procedures in surgical care that he was not physically qualified to handle. In attempting to cope with his injury, he survived a period of acute frustration and depression and he briefly showed this vulnerability to Elizabeth when the two momentarily crossed the professional line and touched a level of genuine intimacy. Elizabeth immediately backed away from the situation, however, and Romano later apologized for his direct behavior.
Romano's continued reckless behavior ultimately led to him being demoted to the ER -he lost his Chief of Staff position after Dr. Anspaugh tired of his attitude and named Kerry Weaver the new Chief of Staff and became the permanent Chief there. Dr. Romano became completely hostile and bitter throughout his time as ER chief. He routinely insulted and took out frustration on the entire staff and newcomers to the ER making him almost impossible to work with. As his arrogance continued, he managed to get himself beaten up in a bar after complaining about a strong man show and calling it "homo-erotic."
However, Romano found that the reattached arm was lacking in both its motor and its sensory capacities: not only was he unable to properly perform surgery, he failed to notice when the arm sustained further injuries after a kitchen accident in which the arm caught fire. Since the hospital's policies impeded his efforts to obtain a more suitable replacement, Romano's career as a surgeon ended when he decided to get his arm amputated.
At the start of the tenth season, Dr. Romano made an unwelcoming return back to the renovating ER after his leave from his amputation. He grew out a beard and was given a prosthetic hook to replace his arm because his insurance did not cover an electric prosthetic device. Romano felt insulted and was further agitated but was later able to get a realistic robotic controlled arm that, he claimed, often malfunctioned.
Romano was getting in countless fights with Kerry, Pratt often joked calling him "RoboDoc" because of his arm, and even Neela Rasgotra and another resident named Coop said he was quite the "character." Dr. Romano later told Dr. Pratt he was working up a file of bogus complaints against him until he had enough of them to get Pratt fired from County.
In the episode, "Freefall" on Thanksgiving Day, after a wealthy patient left his Rolex watch in a trauma room before being transported to another hospital, Romano told Neela Rasgotra to go up to the helipad and return it before they flew out. Since Neela, being relatively new, did not know how to get up there, Romano took it upon himself to escort her to the rooftop to return it.
After arriving on the top floor, and seeing a helicopter for the first time since his accident, a panic attack (over his initial fear of it) sent Dr. Romano fleeing into the ambulance bay for air. High above the ER, the transport helicopter was suddenly buffeted by strong winds and began sidewining on the roof of the hospital. After injuring a nurse and nearly killing Neela, the chopper spun off the rooftop and exploded as it fell down the side of the building, filling the higher floors with flames.
Dr. Romano noticed fire and debris raining down and screamed as he looked up and saw the flaming chopper plummeting down towards him. The twisted wreckage crashed onto Romano, killing him instantly and causing a huge explosion in the ambulance bay.
Just moments before, Romano had "fired" Pratt and caught Morris smoking pot, but his death took Morris off the hook and Dr. Anspaugh told Pratt (not knowing Romano was dead) that Romano's allegations were without merit and that Dr. Anspaugh found him to be a great physician. In the following weeks, a small memorial of flowers was placed at the scene of the crash; still, no one mourned for Romano.
The only staff member to attend his memorial service was Elizabeth Corday, for whom Romano had had feelings since she had first arrived in the fourth season, during which she rejected his amorous advances. Kerry later told Elizabeth that despite the frustrated differences many had with Robert over the years, she stated, "He'll be missed, whether we realize it or not."
Dr. Romano bequeathed a substantial amount of money to the hospital and Kerry a decided to use the money to fund a gay and lesbian medical program at the hospital. A memorial plaque displaying the doctor's portrait was placed on the wall between the two main elevators, where the staff never paid it much attention. After a violent shootout in the ER in the show's 12th season, the plaque was stored away when the department underwent restoration for the damages. Romano was remembered, he made a lot of trouble in the ER, but everyone was happy because he was gone.
- Gretel (dog)
Medical Titles at County GeneralEdit
- Surgical Attending (1997-2003)
- Acting Chief of Emergency Medicine (1999)
- Chief of Surgery (1999-2003)
- Chief of Staff (1999-2003)
- Chief of Emergency Medicine (2003)