The center’s monumental ribbon-cutting ceremony Feb. 16 signified the official opening of the center, which has been in the making for more than a decade.
Bobby Chhabra, chair of orthopedic surgery at U.Va. Health, has been the leader in this operation and development.
“I was a little bit frustrated when I started my practice here with the fragmented nature of the way we provided care,” Chhabra said.
Before the opening of this facility, patients with multiple health issues had to be directed to healthcare departments for treatment, which was not the ideal situation for collaboration among physicians and healthcare providers.
To solve this problem, Chhabra said a spectrum of necessary orthopedic care services are now provided in one location, including evaluation, imaging, treatment, certain surgical procedures, therapy, rehabilitation rooms, clinic rooms and more. The center also has a prosthetics and orthotics clinic that builds prosthetics for patients on site and then helps patients use them.
The orthopedic center is similar to the University Cancer Center’s Breast Care Program, which opened in October 2020. This center operates with the same intention of the orthopedic center, which is to provide comprehensive health care to patients.
Craig Kent, chief executive officer of U.Va. Health, characterizes comprehensive care as a person receiving all of their health care in one place. He explained that this type of care also provides a more holistic approach to a person’s health.
“Comprehensive care means that we manage the whole person, rather than just one part of the person in an episodic way,” Kent said.
Kent, who helped oversee the development of the center, said the orthopedic center aims to provide both of these components of comprehensive care. In addition to the goal of comprehensive care, the center aims to increase the efficiency of patient care.
“The hope is to provide a more efficient environment and provide a more cost efficient environment for our patients over time,” Chhabra said.
Chhabra said the center allows patients to come in and out faster due to the improved coordination of health care.
James Browne, division head of adult reconstruction and the vice-chair of the department of orthopedic surgery at U.Va. Health, has also participated in the planning of the center.
“Hospitals are high cost environments, and being able to have their care in an outpatient type environment not only provides higher quality, but also less cost,” Browne said.
The center also wishes to meet the eco-friendly aspirations of U.Va. Health. This building met the U.Va. Health’s faculty requirements for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver certification, which requires 50-59 points verified by the Green Business Certification Incorporated. The LEED certification requires projects to adhere to certain prerequisites and then collect credits that implement ways to improve carbon, energy, waste, water, health quality, indoor environment quality and transportation.
As part of U.Va. Health, the center was created to treat anyone who walks through the doors.
The orthopedic center treats those in the Charlottesville community, as well as people from outside of Charlottesville or Virginia.
Kent admits, however, to the need to improve the deliverance of health care to underserved communities in Charlottesville. The center has a large community conference center that will help educate the community about orthopedic injuries — especially the prevention of these injuries.
Unlike the services that the University Hospital provides, the center specifically provides the community with speciality care. Browne mentions the subspecialties of orthopedic care at the center, which include trauma, joint replacement, sports medicine, foot and ankle, hand, wrist, elbow, spine and prosthetics and orthotics.
“We have exam rooms where we can see patients and make diagnoses and develop treatment plans,” Browne said. “There will be operating rooms at the new center that will expand from four to six in the future.”
The center is capable of delivering all of the elements of orthopedic care from the examination of patient conditions to the essential post-surgical care in their therapy center.
“We have a very talented group of surgeons, which over the past few years has grown from kind of a moderate sized group to now over 30 different surgeons,” Kent said.
Additionally, the center predicts that it can care for 600 patients a day, indicating the growth of U.Va. Health’s orthopedics and its ability to perform more surgeries. When Chhabra became the chair of orthopedic surgery in 2013, U.Va. Orthopedics saw 58 surgical cases in one year. Last year, however, it took on 9,000 surgical cases.
The center’s increased surgical capacity can help combat the future demands of aging populations, especially the baby boomer population.
In regards to the future of orthopedics at the University, the center also has integrated orthopedic research and clinical trials into their facility.
“We have a lot of ongoing clinical studies where we look at various aspects of orthopedic surgery, including the standard of care type research, as well as some of the newer innovations that are coming down the pipeline,” Browne said.
Consequently, the center and its team will be working towards new orthopedic innovations, as well as better ways to deliver care. For instance, one of the U.Va. Health clinical trials investigates the effects of a bone growth stimulator device for patients who have recently undergone a cervical fusion surgery. Similar research projects will be performed in the center.
This hub of orthopedic services has the potential to not only inspire other healthcare facilities in Virginia or in the country but redefine the way health care can be perceived and coordinated.