Patients will begin going in and out of the new Orthopaedic Surgery Center alongside Concord Hospital on Monday. The fact that they’ll be able to do it on the same day still astonishes the director.
“It’s just amazing that patients can now have total joint replacement, spine surgeries, fracture repairs – all of those procedures are done now on an out-patient basis due in part to new medications, new anesthesia techniques,” said Donna Quinn, RN, who has been director of the center for 20 years. “When I first graduated nursing … 45 years ago, even with cataract surgery, you were placed in a bed for two weeks with sandbags and not moved.”
The center’s location in the new Memorial Medical Office Building West is also an improvement after a quarter century across the street in basement quarters that long ago became cramped.
“I would say that for the last 10 years we have been trying to find a way to expand, whether at the existing site or somewhere close by. A number of things have fallen through so when this opportunity arose … it was pretty much perfect,” said Quinn.
Among the ideas that fell through was building a new surgical center on Pleasant Street, which drew opposition from neighbors.
The new center has more than 20,000 square feet of space and includes five operating rooms, compared to three in the current facility.
The move also removes a long-standing confusion about the relationship between the surgery center and Concord Orthopaedics. Both of these similarly named entities deal with orthopedic medical issues – a field that is spelled both with and without an “a” in the word and that involves bones, muscles, ligaments and nerves – but they’re separate entities.
Concord Orthopaedics, which will remain in the current building, is a private physician practice while the surgery center was created 26 years ago as a joint venture between that business and the parent company of Concord Hospital. The surgery center’s physicians are independent practitioners while the 56 nurses, medical and radiological technicians and office staff are technically employees of the hospital, said Quinn. “It is complicated,” she added.Office Building West
The Surgery Center’s opening is the culmination of the $56 million Medical Office Building West, built last year between the Memorial and Pillsbury medical office buildings. With 147 exam rooms, it houses tenants in 11 different specialties, from OB/GYN to eye surgery to neurology, in 153,000 square feet, which the hospital says is 48 percent more spaces that all those practices previously occupied. The building also has centralized registration on each floor, making it easier for patients using more than one practice, and frees up space inside the hospital for clinical expansion.
The Orthopaedic Surgery Center has its own ground-level parking area while others will be linked by a skywalk from the new parking garage and from the hospital.
Moving into this building was a good choice for the surgery center because staying close to Concord Hospital makes it easier for physicians who work in multiple locations. In fact, connections with the hospital is what created a center for elective orthopedic surgery in the first place.
“Back in the ’90s when procedures started to be performed on an outpatient basis, it was very difficult to get operating room time. When trauma comes into the hospital, elective surgery gets bumped,” Quinn said. “So ambulatory surgery centers started cropping up around the country and the state.”
The center began with two operating rooms, and “probably about 8 physicians.” It opened in February 1995 and did 773 cases that year; by 2000 it was up to 2,495 annual cases and by 2010 it had maxed out at 5,427 cases.
This year will see a decline of about 8% to roughly 5,000 cases, Quinn said, which isn’t bad considering that it was shut for five weeks during the early days of the pandemic. To an extent, she said, the center’s outpatient emphasis has benefited from COVID-19 because people are more anxious to avoid overnight stays in the hospital.
Although a few procedures were done Thursday, the first official surgical cases in the new facility will take place Monday. Saturday was the big moving day, with equipment, furniture and, of course, vast numbers of medical files being moved into the new building.
“That’s what I was just doing – packing up file folders,” said Quinn. “I’ve got a nice big trash pile.”
The move is a double change for Quinn because she will retire next week.
“I wasn’t really nostalgic until yesterday when one of the physicians wanted a picture in front of the O.R. that he works in. He probably has done over 8,000 procedures here – he was feeling a little nostalgic,” she said.
“I’ve glad I was able to see this move done.”(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or email@example.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)