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FirstHealth of the Carolinas
A legacy of orthopaedics excellence
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By Christine Cardellino
Dr. Ellis
In the fall of 2007, Dr. Ellis had a total hip replacement at Moore Regional, graciously switching roles from practitioner to patient in the thriving program that he helped to build during his distinguished 30-plus-year tenure at the hospital.

“I was a beneficiary of our whole service line approach and of all the protocols and care pathways that I was privileged to help set up,” Dr. Ellis says. “Everything with my procedure went very smoothly, and I was back to my normal routine very quickly. I can’t even tell I had a hip replacement.

Despite his retirement, Dr. Ellis remains closely involved with FirstHealth of the Carolinas as chairman of the Foundation of FirstHealth’s $30 million Stepping Stones Campaign to build a Heart Institute, Hospitality House and Hospice House. The orthopaedic “service line approach” to which Dr. Ellis refers took root at Moore Regional Hospital in the early 1990s and continues to differentiate the award-winning patient-centered orthopaedic care that patients receive today.

“Dr. Ellis has played the most instrumental role in establishing Moore Regional Hospital as the premier hospital in this region for having joint replacement surgery and in establishing the orthopaedic service line,” says Ward Oakley, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon and long-time Ellis colleague. “He built a tremendously popular and successful practice. Patients would drive from places hours away just to have Dr. Ellis do their surgery.”

Under the novel “total team” approach at Moore Regional, the broader health care team—not just the orthopaedic surgeons and nurses, but also the rehabilitation specialists, anesthesiologists, radiologists, pharmacists, dietitians, operating room staff, discharge planners, outpatient representatives and emergency department staff—meets regularly to discuss patient care and to establish protocols that are designed to provide the best possible outcomes. See the related story)

“Our total team concept means that people who undergo joint replacement surgery at Moore Regional Hospital benefit from the expertise and collaboration of our highly skilled professionals who specialize in total joint care,” Dr. Ellis says. “Our evidence-based care pathway is designed to ensure total care and peace of mind before, during and after surgery.”

The impact of growth
As with many other services lines at Moore Regional, orthopaedics has seen its share of breakthroughs throughout the decades, including the undeniable influence of technology.

Personal computers have streamlined the organization, storage and management of patient data. The Internet has helped consumers to become more educated about orthopaedic illnesses and injuries, treatment options and other aspects of their care. New medical technologies have enhanced the diagnosis, management, and treatment of bone and joint disorders.

“We have seen dramatic improvements with the introduction of CT scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and various other diagnostic imaging techniques,” says Dr. Ellis. “We can make an accurate diagnosis in the bones or joints with non-invasive techniques instead of having to open up a patient’s knee, for example, to find out what is wrong.”

Add to that the convenience of Moore Regional Hospital’s Picture Archival and Communications System (PACS), which records high-resolution images of X-rays and MRI and CT scans into a digital file. Members of the patient care team can access these files from any computer workstation in the hospital or from remote locations such as physicians’ offices through a secure Internet connection.

Technology also has given rise to minimally invasive surgical techniques, such as arthroscopy, and to major improvements in the quality, composition and durability of knee and hip prostheses.

“The instrumentation and video capabilities used during arthroscopy have improved tremendously, freeing our hands to do surgery while we observe on a high-resolution television screen,” Dr. Ellis says.

“In addition, there’s been a huge change in the design of implants,” he adds. “Today’s prostheses more naturally duplicate the normal physiology and anatomy of hip and knee joints—and we even have a knee replacement specially sized and shaped to fit a woman’s anatomy. The composition is better, too—high-density polyethylene plastics—and manufacturers are using higher-quality metals and improved techniques of fixation.”

Even the operating rooms have gotten bigger and better. Moore Regional Hospital has two specially equipped orthopaedic surgical suites that accommodate both traditional and minimally invasive procedures.

“When designing the suites, we paid close attention to air quality and environmental safety to help minimize the risk of infection, which is a possibility with any surgical procedure,” says Dr. Ellis.

The orthopaedic surgical suites at Moore Regional are outfitted with sophisticated air exchange and temperature monitoring systems, as well as an advanced filtration system that helps to minimize airborne bacteria.

Branching out
Expanding subspecialties in the field of orthopaedics have allowed Moore Regional to attract some of the area’s most accomplished experts to the medical staff. Subspecialties in spine and back surgery, hand and wrist care, sports medicine, and total and partial joint replacement have emerged to address the complex medical needs of patients.

“We recruited surgeons who had completed general orthopaedics training and earned board certification, but also completed fellowship training in other subspecialties,” says Dr. Ellis. “This has brought a completely new dimension to the care we have been able to provide.”

For more information about the orthopaedics services offered at FirstHealth of the Carolinas hospitals, call (800) 213-3284.