BERLIN — Patients seeking one-stop shopping for treatment of an array of muscular and skeletal health issues need look no further than the new Central Vermont Medical Center Orthopedic Center.
Situated in an office complex (next to Vermont Lottery) on the Barre-Montpelier Road, a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week finally called attention to the center’s opening in November, offering orthopedic services in sports and spine medicine and podiatry.
This includes treatments for the hand, wrist, shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, ankle and foot. The center also has specialist sports medicine services and nonsurgical treatments such as injections (including ultrasound-guided shots), fracture care and casting, and care of sprains and strains, arthritis and wounds. Many of those services were previously dispersed at medical centers in Berlin, Montpelier and Waterbury, and patients would have to make multiple visits for complicated care or to access support services such as X-rays and lab testing.
One patient who spoke highly of the center is Katherine Bisson, of Barre, who receives care after a fall that fractured her hip, and podiatry services because she is prediabetic and has problems with circulation in her feet.
“I’m 94 and have to get around in a wheelchair,” said Bisson, adding that getting in and out of a car and into buildings was a challenge, especially with multiple visits to different medical providers. “It’s wonderful for me to be able to see all my doctors in one place. I think it’s a wonderful service to have it all together.”
The center adjoins complementary services: CVMC’s Rehabilitation Therapy Clinic and the ExpressCare walk-in emergency services clinic. It allows health care providers in each facility the convenience to communicate quickly with patients requiring crossover services.
And the facility is big. The reason, according to office supervisor Lynne Rodriguez, is because the center houses services of nearly a dozen specialist providers, each of whom sees as many as a 20 patients each day.
During a tour of the facility, Dr. Christopher Meriam, a specialist in orthopedics and sports medicine, described the range of services.
Beyond the waiting room in the clinical area is the office manager who handles the surgical schedule, and numerous consult rooms, some used by a community health team to deal with patients’ musculoskeletal health issues and illnesses, Meriam said.
“Our hope is to be able to provide those services here so we have a comprehensive care plan, not just, ‘we’re going to take care of your elbow today,’” he said.
One section of the facility deals with podiatry. “Podiatry basically does foot and some ankle stuff, and there’s a full overlap, because they’ll take care of bunions and hammer toes (clenched toes), and they’ll do a lot of diabetic foot care, and do some tendon and fracture care,” Meriam said.
“In orthopedics, we also do foot and ankle fracture care. There’s also a wound care clinic right next door. Then we have a physical therapist care unit, which is very convenient for all of us; I walked over today to grab a physical therapist that my patient had just seen and I had some questions for them and wanted to convey some information for feedback later. If you’re here for a fall or a first visit, we might be able to get someone on the physical therapy side to see you right away,” Meriam added.
Meriam also gestured toward the ExpressCare Clinic down the hall, noting some patients use it instead of a visit to the emergency room or if they don’t have a doctor. At the clinic, people can access orthopedic services right next door.
Optical services include an X-ray suite, which saves a trip to the hospital and speeds consults and treatment; ultrasound machines that help with guiding deep joint injections for cortisone and other medications; and arthroscopic vision scopes that help confirm a diagnosis of a MRI, or avoid the need for a MRI at a much lower cost before a planned surgery.
“We also have a spine surgeon, Dr. John Braun … It’s convenient to have because in general orthopedics we don’t do backs but we have that capability too,” Meriam said. “General orthopedics includes joint replacement, sports medicine, trauma care, strains and sprains, arthroscopic surgery of shoulder, hips, knees, elbows. One of my partners is also a hand specialist who does fairly complex reconstructive procedures of the hand, and also does wrist arthroscopic surgery, carpel tunnels, and other simple hand procedures as well.”
The sports medicine section alone has 12 consult rooms, with four doctors and three physician assistants, dealing with a heavy caseload of primary musculoskeletal care patients. There is also a casting room for fractures, sprains and strains.
Rodriguez said the all-inclusive services of the center allowed doctors to work closely on a patient’s care. “There’s a lot of collaboration between groups which is why we put them all under one roof,” she said. “Before, the providers weren’t seeing each other that much; they were basically talking through the computer or on the phone. Now they’re all in one spot and can all work together.”
For more information about the center, call 371-4100 or visit www.cvmc.org/our-services/orthopedics.