'Colleagues, not competitors': Orthopedic groups partner on new facility at Connecticut hospital

Practice Management

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Connecticut Orthopaedic Institute at St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport will be held Feb. 24, four years after sister hospital MidState Medical Center in Meriden debuted the institute's first location.

The center features a 35,000-square-foot inpatient unit, 35 private rooms and a wide portfolio of surgical technologies designed to deliver the highest quality orthopedic care, according to John Irving, MD, a total joint specialist who co-directs the institute with spine surgeon Gerard Girasole, MD.

"This is a very collaborative effort," Dr. Irving told Becker's. "Three large orthopaedic groups in the region came together as colleagues, not competitors, to develop protocols and share in the success of the center — a hospital within a hospital. The No. 1 goal is the outcomes of our patients."

The program includes orthopedic surgeons from Connecticut Orthopaedics in Hamden, Danbury-based OrthoConnecticut and Fairfield-based Orthopaedic Specialty Group, as well as neurosurgeons from the Ayer Neuroscience Institute and the community.

"By far, the biggest hurdle the project had to overcome in recent months has been the COVID-19 pandemic and the operational impact that has had on the hospital system," said Andrew Turczak, PA-C, senior director of operations at Connecticut Orthopaedic Institute.

"Fortunately, the nuts and bolts of the program — people, protocols and processes — we've been able to follow the blueprint from our sister hospital at MidState."

Now, the challenge facing many orthopedic providers is patients' reluctance to have surgery until they have been vaccinated, but Dr. Irving insists the institute has the right people and protocols in place to protect patients from the coronavirus and provide great outcomes.

"From environmental services to our anesthesia program to nursing care and physical therapy, we're an integrated program with the same goal in mind," Dr. Irving said. "We have developed protocols and work together as a community of physicians and allied health to arrive at a consensus to ensure the best outcome for our patients while delivering an exceptional concierge experience.

"With those protocols in place, we've been able to apply for the advanced total joint certification [with The Joint Commission]. We're expecting a review and hopefully certification later in the year."

St. Vincent's hip and knee replacement program holds The Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval and its spine program was named an Aetna Institute of Quality for Spine Surgery.

The orthopedics program is equipped with Stryker's Mako robot, Globus Medical's ExcelsiusGPS and Medtronic's Stealth navigation system. St. Vincent's is also the first acute care hospital in Connecticut to implement 7D Surgical's Machine-vision Image Guided Surgery System, a radiation-free tool for spine surgery, according to Mr. Turczak.

"It's a very interesting time," Dr. Irving said. "We're in a transition period in both spine and total joint surgery. We've embraced robotic technology and have a number of surgeons trained to use it."

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