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Published on March 22, 2022

Dr Fuentes-Barrow and patient

Avera Orthopedics Expands to Better Serve a Growing Community

Aging baby boomers and the popularity of athletics and active lifelong lifestyles contributed to growth in Orthopedics over the past years. These evolving consumer demands, in addition to Sioux Falls’ rapid growth led to a concerted effort by Avera Orthopedics to expand services.

“We hoped to have added 10 physicians by 2022, but actually we have more than 20 specialized and subspecialized physicians,” said Ann Heiman, Assistant Vice President of Orthopedics, Therapy and Sports Medicine with Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center.

Heiman said growth came in many forms:

  • More services fit to exact needs, with subspecialist layers of care
  • More efficient new clinical spaces focused on patient comfort, along with more operating rooms and more clinical support staff
  • Increases in the type of and number of procedures available to best help patients

Growth in recent years has focused in Sioux Falls, but Avera has more than 50 orthopedic physicians and many advanced practice providers across the region. Communities including Aberdeen, Brookings, Mitchell, Pierre, Sioux Falls and Yankton, S.D., as well as O’Neill, Neb., and Marshall, Minn., all have robust orthopedic service providers.

Growing Orthopedic Services in Many Ways

The dynamics of orthopedics are changing, as well. This led Avera to transform beyond general orthopedics to specialized care.

“General orthopedics used to be the norm; we’ve come to realize the necessity for subspecialist care,” Heiman said. “When a patient has pain affecting quality of life, they want care tailored.”

Specific disciplines include:

  • Surgeons who focus on subspecialties like foot and ankle, hand, elbow and wrist, spine and spinal injuries joint replacement and pain management.
  • Additional specialists who focus on non-operative treatment options
  • Sports medicine experts who help athletes achieve top performance, from running farther or faster or getting stronger with evidence-based protocols and biomechanics.
  • Specialized orthopedic trauma experts in fracture care who can immediately treat injuries, no matter how severe.

Avera opened its Louise Avenue location in 2019. Avera Orthopedics providers practice there and at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center.

How Growth Began – and How it Continues

Bringing in a specialized team of providers – surgeons, non-operative physicians, therapists and many others – showed many that Avera recognized the needs of the community in the present and the future.

“They had a vision,” said Matthew Blake, MD, Avera Orthopedics sports medicine and surgery specialist, who joined Avera in 2017. “I joined because Avera knows getting bigger means more than just adding people.”

With Avera’s long history of supporting university and high school athletes, the health system saw this growth area as vital. Physicians like Blake saw the appeal in an on-track system. He wanted to join and share his passion for sports medicine. New beginnings were just about to unfold.

“The Avera Specialty Hospital was an open plot of land when I interviewed,” he said. “To be part of the foundation of a premier orthopedic care team is really rewarding.”

Building a Culture of Excellence within a Culture of Excellence

Joining a health system with Avera’s reputation helped Blake pick Sioux Falls.

“Medical knowledge doubles every year, so being part of a system with research and technology that helps me stay on the leading edge is important,” Blake said.

He realized Avera’s leaders understood how orthopedic care was evolving.

“With the growth in Sioux Falls and the aging population of many of our residents, orthopedics is in high demand,” said Dave Flicek, Avera McKennan President and CEO. “Our expert level of trauma and clinically integrated orthopedic sub-specialty services has a unique opportunity to meet the growing needs of Sioux Falls.”

Charting another Future and Its Changes

Convenience and innovation are not buzzwords for Avera Orthopedics: they’re daily actions.

“We encourage providers to train around the world and bring back best ideas for service,” Heiman said. Examples more common in orthopedic and sports medicine care include:

  • Wearable biologic devices that can guide an athlete of any age toward achievement of individual goals or faster injury recovery.
  • New robotic surgical approaches that use minimally invasive techniques customized to the patient.
  • Non-operative approaches to care including such as platelet-rich plasma and stem cell injections therapies.

“From our front-desk staff to our nurses, athletic trainers, technicians in many areas, our schedulers and everyone else – our only focus is orthopedic patients,” Blake said. “We’re all striving for the pinnacle of patient satisfaction.”

Learn more at Avera.org/Orthopedics.

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