Jamaica Hospital Medical Center had a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday for a new orthopedic center at 134-20 Jamaica Ave. on the first floor of the hospital’s Axel Building.
The new center was 23 years in the making, according to JHMC CEO Bruce Flanz.
“About 23 years ago, we met with a couple of orthopedic surgeons,” said Flanz. “We talked about a vision of what we wanted to create in terms of clinical services and along with clinical services we talked about a space, we just didn’t say when.”
The medical center has had an orthopedic department for over two decades, but it was a carved-out space within the Women’s Health Center at 133-03 Jamaica Ave., according to the hospital’s spokesman Michael Hinck.
“Now they have a dedicated center, which allows us the opportunity to see more patients,” said Hinck.
The 4,800-square-foot center features eight exam rooms, two consultation rooms and a state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging room, according to Flanz.
“One of the things that we have been working on ... is to get our clinical programs to a point to where we will be proud of them for ourselves and our own families,” said the CEO. “Orthopedics has been that way for over 20 years, but the only thing that was missing was a physical space to accommodate the patients.”
Dr. Sabiha Raoof, the chief medical officer at JHMC, is proud to have seen how the multiple departments in the hospital have grown over the years.
“As the chief medical officer, Bruce and I go and meet with outside agencies like the state [Department of Health],” said Raoof. “One of the departments we always talk about is orthopedics. We have full confidence in that department.”
Raoof was also a patient within the department.
“I had broken a lot of bones,” said Raoof. “I would not go to any other place for my care.”
The new equipment at the center allows the surgeons to do minimally invasive procedures all under one roof, which makes it efficient for the doctors and patients, according to orthopedic surgeon Dr. Nader Paksima.
“We are very excited to be moving to our new offices so that we can provide all types of services to the community,” said Paksima. “We are going to be doing fluoroscopic guided injections and ultrasound guided injections.”
A fluoroscopic guided injection involves inserting medicine directly into a joint.
“We are going to do hip injections, trigger fingers and even blocks for pain management,” said Paksima.
A trigger finger is a condition in which a finger gets stuck in one position.
Chairing the Orthopedic Surgery Center is Dr. Sanjit Konda, who did a surgical rotation at the hospital as a resident in 2007, then went on to do a fellowship out of state and came back to the hospital as an attending physician in 2013. Konda was promoted to chair of the department in January 2020, before Covid-19 delayed plans for the center to be built that year.
“It’s important to have the latest technology to keep up with the advances in orthopedic care, which has become the standard care across the country,” said Konda. “It is going to help us diagnose patients better, it is going to help us treat patients better and it’s going to help patients achieve their optimal outcome.”
Wrist fractures, joint pain, ankle sprains, pediatric developmental abnormalities, pediatric fractures and bone tumors are just a few of the prevalent musculoskeletal problems that the new machines will help Konda diagnose.
“It’s a little bit of everything,” added Konda.
Brittany Foster, the administrator of the orthopedic department, loved managing the project.
“I worked with the doctors and they had a vision of what they wanted,” said Foster. “I worked really close with the engineering and construction departments about the supplies that needed ordering and putting everything together.”
The project was supposed to open last year, but first there was difficulty finding a space for where the center would be, then Covid-19 struck, resulting in nonpandemic care being halted and orthopedic surgeons joining the frontline to fight against the coronavirus at its height.
“It was an amazing project to work on,” said Foster about the six-month endeavor. “Our patient volume and staffing has increased over the past few years ... Once things picked back up, the engineering department worked pretty quickly.”
The hospital has up to two orthopedic surgeons daily and they see from 80 to 90 patients on busy days, according to Foster. On slower days they see 30 to 40. “We have a pediatric oncologist — orthopedic surgeon — and another hand surgeon.”
The surgical group is also the founding medical partner of the Queensboro Football Club to be located at York College and it will provide exclusive medical services to the athletes on the soccer team, which is expected to play its first United Soccer League Championship game in 2023.
“Over the past few years we got another sports medicine surgeon,” added Foster.