It’s hard to believe 2017 is almost over. Like most of us, I’m amazed at how time passes so quickly. It seems like just yesterday when, in 2008, I arrived in Harrisonburg to begin working for Rockingham Memorial Hospital. Back then, it was just Dr. David Cohen and myself who comprised the newly created Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Department at the hospital. We knew we had a major challenge ahead of us to build the framework to support a growing group of orthopedic doctors, nurses and physician assistants—so we got to work.
Since that time, Harrisonburg has seen tremendous growth, and we have grown as well—from two providers to 16—in order to meet the healthcare needs of our expanding community. Over the years, our department has branched out into three main areas of specialty focus: orthopedic joints, spine and pain, and, most recently, sports medicine. We anticipate that the ortho, sports medicine, and back and neck clinics alone will see more than 40,000 patient visits this year! We’re proud of all the dedicated hard work it has taken to expand orthopedic care in this fashion, and it was with the greatest excitement that we were able to unveil our new signage in July, announcing the Sentara Sports Medicine Center at Sentara RMH.
More Than a Name Change
Receiving this new designation as a Sentara Sports Medicine Center is important to all of us who work here, because it signifies that we have reached a long-sought destination. An idea that was set in motion 10 years ago has now come to fruition. Not only are we capable of taking care of professional athletes, but we can and do treat every patient as if they were one. From the first to the last appointment, we want every patient to be treated like a LeBron James or a Tom Brady. We know athletes take their game seriously, and we do as well.
Over the past two years, a committee of sports medicine specialists that included physicians, physical therapists and certified athletic trainers from the Sentara system has studied the prominent sports medicine centers across the country, and we used that research to create a list of characteristics necessary to provide a full-service “destination center” for patients’ sports medicine needs. Sentara RMH Orthopedics and Sports Medicine had many of these features already in place, and we have worked hard to put all the needed components in place.
But our goal has been greater than just completing a list. We strive to be a leader in the field of sports medicine—not just in Central Virginia, but across the Sentara Healthcare system. We are truly excited for the patients and athletes of this region, who will no longer have to leave town to get world-class treatments for their injuries and conditions, including treatments like “all-inside” anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, or complicated ligament and tendon repairs.
To achieve and retain this new designation, Sentara Sports Medicine Centers must maintain certain criteria, a few of which are listed here:
• Fellowship-trained sports medicine surgeons
• Fellowship-trained nonoperative sports medicine physicians
• Radiologists with fellowship training in musculoskeletal imaging
• Physical therapy providers who have additional certification in sports medicine/orthopedic conditions
• Certified athletic trainers on staff to manage patient injuries and provide community outreach
• Coverage of community athletic events
• Physicians trained in concussion management and therapies
New Building, Enhanced Processes
An important milestone in our journey to become a Sentara Sports Medicine Center was the January 2016 opening of our new Sentara RMH Orthopedic Center on the main campus, which houses our back and neck specialists, orthopedic and sports medicine specialists, advanced imaging center, and therapy services. Opening that building has allowed our staff to achieve greater efficiencies in diagnosis and treatment, which ultimately translates into better care for our patients.
Currently, more than 8,000 patients come through our doors each month for advanced imaging, therapy and orthopedic care. Since all the orthopedic, sports medicine and therapy providers, along with outpatient imaging services, are now located together under one roof, we can expedite treatments and get athletes back on the field faster than ever. If a softball player injures her knee, for instance, she can be seen in the office by one of our sports medicine providers, and we can often get an MRI of her injured knee on the same day. This would enable her to begin physical therapy right away—or, if surgery is required, we could schedule that immediately as well.
This type of efficiency has become our standard of practice since moving into the new building. The space allows for a constant stream of patients who can visit two or three different specialists, as needed, all under one roof.
Treating Active People of All Kinds
You don’t have to be a pro, semi-pro, collegiate or high school athlete to be seen at the Sentara Sports Medicine Center at Sentara RMH.
Indeed, we do work on the pros and semi-pros: We treated a major league baseball player and got him in for surgery just five days after his initial appointment, so he could make it to spring training camp on time. And we’ve helped a semi-professional tennis player get rid of her knee pain, with which she had struggled for more than a year, by implementing PRP injections. But we also recently helped a local 65-year-old cyclist recover from his rib and clavicle fractures, getting him back on his bike within 8 weeks.
In short, the Sentara Sports Medicine Center at Sentara RMH cares for everyone who may need our expertise, from professional athletes to everyday folks who rely on exercise for their enjoyment and to improve their health. Our local community has thousands of youth soccer players, high school athletes, world-class mountain bikers and skiers, and a great many people in their retirement years who are just exercising to keep feeling young and healthy. They can rest assured that, should they need orthopedic and sports medicine services, we’re here for them.
A Great Team Bringing Their Best Game
Each member of our team—from the front desk staff and our nurses to our advanced-care practitioners and physicians—understand that our athletes want to return to their sport or exercise program as soon as possible. To help them accomplish that goal, all of our team members work in tandem, staying in communication with each other by phone, as well as through patients’ electronic medical records, to ensure the best and most expedient level of care.
The Sentara Sports Medicine Center at Sentara RMH is truly a one-stop shop for athletes of all types, and we couldn’t be more proud to serve our community.