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Dr. Jason Caron, left, an orthopedic surgeon, follows up with a patient, Phyllis Skala, in an exam rooms in the new Sanford Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Center at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center. Skala underwent a knee replacement about a month ago and she was visiting the clinic Wednesday for a follow-up exam. MONTE DRAPER | BEMIDJI PIONEER

Sanford unveils new Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Center; brings together staff housed in multiple locations

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BEMIDJI — Increased collaboration, communication and convenience.

Those are three anticipated improvements to local health care delivery following the completion of Sanford Bemidji Medical Center’s Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Center.

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The 46,385 square-foot addition now centrally houses rehabilitation/Peak Performance, orthopedics and sports medicine personnel and equipment, bringing together physicians and facilities that previously were spread throughout Sanford’s campus.

"To just have the geographic, spatial togetherness, it promotes a team connection," said Dr. Mark Carlson of sports medicine. "We’re all together on the same team, trying to make sure (patients) are getting a full spectrum of care."

Sanford will host a grand opening to celebrate the center’s completion from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, hosting a ribbon-cutting and offering tours. The $9 million project was designed by AECOM of Minneapolis and constructed by Kraus-Anderson.

"The integration with the clinic (both being part of the same health organization) has really been a big boon for us," said Brad Neis, director of rehab services for Sanford Bemidji, suggesting that rehab has needed additional space for two to three years. "It’s been really good, us being part of the same organization, and I think that’s probably been the biggest key in our expansion and running into space issues."

Expansion for rehab services

A main entrance leads patients to one of two main exterior waiting rooms, one for rehab/therapy services and one for sports medicine.

A third waiting room is for Sanford Bemidji Children’s patients, those who receive services such as pediatric physical, occupational and speech therapies. For the younger children, they received expanded gymnasium space — the "gym" is more like an indoor playground, with climbing structures and a variety of kid-friendly play areas — and an expanded sensory-integration space, which is a little quieter and more subdued for children with sensory disorders.

For adult rehab, five additional treatment rooms were added along with a new cardiac rehab center, relocated from the fourth floor of the main hospital.

"In the past, our cardiac rehab patients would have to come in the front entrance, ride the elevator up to the fourth floor and navigate around the nurses’ station to just get to the cardiac rehab gym," Neis said.

The trek to get there was an exercise by itself, hospital personnel noted.

Cardiac rehab is located adjacent to the general gymnasium, used for rehab by patients and general fitness by employees, their spouses and SilverSneakers participants. The gym, too, received some additional space and new locker rooms were constructed for both men and women.

For occupational medicine, treatment rooms now are about twice the size of a typical exam room, providing enough space for staff to perform a variety of functions, including pre-employment screenings.

"A manufacturing company may hire somebody and they want to make sure they are physically fit for the job," Neis said. "They’ll make a contingent offer and that employee needs to come in and pass a pre-work screen. which is mimicked to the functional job description. So if the job requires them to lift 50 pounds from the floor to waist several times, we’re going to have them do that, make sure they’re safe doing that, to see that they can do that."

Such screenings have led to decreases in workers-compensation claims, protecting both the employees and employers, he noted.

A relocation for sports medicine

In sports medicine, nearly everything is new, the staff having been relocated from three separate Sanford sites.

Carlson, for example, worked out of the 1705 Clinic, named for its address at 1705 Anne St. NW; Drs. Jason Caron and Terrance Johnson came from the former Lake Region Bone & Joint center, 3807 Greenleaf Ave. NW, located across the street; and Drs. J. Adam Hamilton and Patrick Moriarty relocated from the main clinic.

"I walked in here (the other day) and Dr. Caron and Dr. Moriarty had both had clinic that day. They were right here in Dr. Moriarty’s office, the two of them talking about something that had happened during the course of the day," said Jay Fraley, director of orthopedics. "That’s the way it’s going to be from now on.

"It was difficult for them to cross paths (before) with one of them across the street and both having clinic on the same day. But here it will be every 10 minutes. That’s always good."

Caron agreed, saying patients will benefit from the increased interaction among personnel.

"Great collegiality in medicine is always a good thing," he said.

Neis added the doctors’ proximity to therapists also will benefit patients.

"If a physician has a question about a patient’s therapy or a question about they can do for them, they can just open the door, walk over and talk to the therapist," he said.

The Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Center boasts a new x-ray center with two x-ray systems, one with equipment relocated from the former Lake Region Bone & Joint site and one with new equipment.

"This is the busiest x-ray center in the whole Sanford campus here in Bemidji," Fraley said.

There also are 16 new exam rooms for sports medicine, equally divided along two mirror-image, parallel hallways. A nurses’ station is located directly in the middle.

Fraley noted, too, that there is a dedicated area for orthopedic scheduling, so medical personnel can schedule future appointments or procedures on site, with the patient present.

"The more that we can make these things happen, in person, on the spot, we just feel it is a lot better service," he said.

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