Western New York is thriving—and our 50+ population is mirroring the energy, vitality, and longevity of our booming community. From the marathoners still out on the course to the cyclists dusting off their wheels for the summer, the later-in-life fitness fanatics to those of us that just want to keep up with our kids and grandkids, we’re not slowing down any time soon.

While all signs point to seniors looking out for their health more than ever, it also makes the best care when things don’t go as planned even more important. So when it comes to recovering from a fracture, recuperating after an elective total joint replacement, or putting in the work of rehabilitation that comes after either, Western New York’s needed—and deserved—a go-to place for orthopaedic success stories.

No one saw this more clearly than the orthopaedic team over at ECMC, as patient flow and demand for care leapt higher than ever before. Between 2000 and 2010, patient visits to the hospital’s outpatient orthopaedic service jumped by a staggering 46%, and has seen 58,000 patients in 5+ years since. At the same time, more people have been seeking elective orthopaedic surgical services, especially total joint replacement.

While the care was cutting-edge, results-oriented, and patient centric, ECMC’s team of leaders, physicians, and caregivers knew that with even more patients and cases coming in each year, it would take a new facility to make the patient experience exceptional.

Rising to a rising challenge

ECMC’s first push in meeting our area’s increasing need for orthopaedic care came in 2015 with the opening of the Russell J. Salvatore Orthopaedic Unit, Western New York’s newest orthopaedic, physical medicine, and rehabilitation facility. The traditional focus on clinical expertise, compassionate care, and the best orthopaedic experiences are, of course, in place, but many of the Unit’s most remarkable breakthroughs reflect a growing focus on delivering better experiences and the ultimate in patient care. In addition to 22 brand-new private suites for treatment and recovery, the Unit includes a new rehabilitation gym, specialized recovery equipment, nutrition services, a patient education space, and a patient family lounge.

A $12.5 million project (partly funded through a generous donation from local restaurateur Russell J. Salvatore), the Unit filled a need in Western New York—and served to make ECMC a growing destination of choice for Western New Yorkers seeking orthopaedic surgery and care.

Meeting the need for outpatient care

Following the success of the Russell J. Salvatore Orthopaedic Unit, teams from ECMC’s executive leadership, Orthopaedics, and ambulatory services recognized the need to also overhaul the hospital’s orthopaedic clinic, and create the Center for Orthopaedic Care to provide more space, better care, and an environment that promotes healing, education, and patient safety. The prior outpatient orthopaedic clinic was cramped, outdated, and inefficient for patients, physicians, and clinical caregivers. It was also missing the space to educate future leaders in orthopaedics: the residents and students learning in its halls and patient rooms. In its new, accessible location on the Medical Center’s first floor, the 6,900 square foot Center is nearly four times larger than the old.

Throughout the construction, safety, convenience, and patient experience remained a paramount focus. ECMC leadership noted impressive end results, including that the facility was able to double the number of exam rooms, widen doorways to accommodate wheelchairs and stretchers, and overall be better equipped to serve every patient with orthopaedic needs. The new outpatient Center also features larger, more comfortable registration and waiting areas, and gave ECMC’s doctors and nurses the dedicated space they need for case work and education.

Sharon L. Hanson, Chair of ECMC’s Board of Directors elaborated on the community effects, saying, “Together with the Russell J. Salvatore Orthopaedic Unit that opened last year, our new Center for Orthopaedic Care will bring the highest level of outpatient care to patients throughout Western New York.”

Thomas J. Quatroche, Jr., Ph.D., ECMC’s President and CEO said, “Patient experience is our highest priority, and this new Center for Orthopaedic Care provides another demonstration of ECMC’s commitment to the highest quality healthcare for anyone who seeks our services.”

Making moves for a healthy future

So how does the physician ultimately responsible for the outcomes of ECMC’s orthopaedic program feel about the many developments and what they mean to his patients?

For Dr. Phillip Stegemann, Chief of ECMC Orthopaedics, the change is incredible. He remarked that “the patient has always been at the center of care we deliver, and this unit takes this level of commitment to our patients to another level.