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MD NEWS: Gaining the Upper Hand (and Wrist) in Syracuse Orthopedic Care

SOS Hand Wrist and Upper Extremity Doctors

A cadre of dedicated subspecialists and a facility dubbed “orthopedic heaven” establish Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists (SOS) as a pacesetter in regional hand and wrist care.

Finding a place in the vanguard of any medical discipline requires the coalescence of myriad factors. Some — physician experience and expertise, combined with facilities equipped with leading-edge technologies — can be cultivated through focused leadership and a clearly defined organizational plan. Other factors, such as case volumes, are influenced by the environment in which the organization delivers care. For SOS, the necessary components for a leading area orthopedic provider have crystallized. But the group’s physicians continue to seek ways to enhance the care they deliver.

“Our doctors are not only general orthopedic surgeons, they’re specialists — that’s the SOS advantage,” says Nathan G. Everding, MD, hand and upper-extremity specialist at SOS. “Each of our physicians focuses on perfecting his craft, and we all actively pursue additional training to enhance the care we provide.”

While SOS offers comprehensive orthopedic services, and its providers have privileges at many hospitals in Syracuse and its surrounding areas, five of its specialists — and one more who will join the practice in September — are devoted specifically to treating the numerous conditions affecting the hand and wrist.

Prepared for Volume

As a group, SOS hand and wrist specialists evaluate and treat numerous patients who seek medical attention for injuries and debilitating conditions affecting the hand and wrist. To address the needs of the large volume of patients seeking care from the team, SOS recruited specialty-trained support staff and built an outpatient surgery center equipped with leading-edge technology for orthopedic surgery.

Many routine hand and wrist procedures can be performed during office visits at SOS’ Hand and Wrist Center, located in the Dewitt Clinic on Widewaters Parkway and other area SOS locations, but Specialists One-day Surgery ensures that patients who require surgery have easy access to safe, convenient and affordable care.

Specialists One-day Surgery, a freestanding ambulatory surgery center, is a space dedicated to outpatient orthopedic surgery. Since opening in 2002, the facility has grown from four outpatient and two pain management rooms to six outpatient surgery rooms, a pain management suite, an expanded acute recovery room and phase II recovery area, pre- and post-op areas, waiting rooms, a dedicated entry, and a larger, easily accessible parking lot.

“We’ve performed more than 130,000 operations at Specialists One-day Surgery since it opened,” says John F. Fatti, MD, President of Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists. “There’s a tremendous sense of pride that comes from being part of a large, growing organization that serves the needs of Central New York.”

Specialists One-day Surgery is a critical component of orthopedic care in the region. Nearly 60 orthopedic procedures are performed there every day.

Emphasis on Team

While the facility was designed for patient convenience, the medical team was assembled to deliver the highest standard of orthopedic surgical care. Because orthopedic surgery is the focus at Specialists One-day Surgery, everyone — from front desk personnel to operating room registered nurses to postoperative registered nurses — specializes in some aspect of the discipline.

“Because we only perform orthopedic surgery at Specialists One-day Surgery, we do not have to compete with other specialties for operating room time,” Dr. Everding says. “The staff is exceptional, and all assistants, operating room nurses and technicians focus on orthopedics all day, which makes them extremely good at what they do.”

Beyond bringing patient-centered care to the forefront, the facility has garnered a reputation as a superlative location at which to operate, Dr. Everding notes.

“As a surgeon, it is great to have a team that anticipates your next move,” he says. “Many of my coworkers refer to the facility as ‘orthopedic heaven.’ This is the best staff I’ve ever worked with, and nobody could expect more, in terms of quality and efficiency.”

Tempered by high patient volumes, SOS’ hand and wrist teams have become well-oiled machines, enhancing and refining the outpatient surgical process.

“In a high-volume practice such as ours, efficiency is critically important,” Dr. Everding says. “Many surgeries are fairly straightforward and can be completed in a matter of minutes, which means the majority of time in the operating room is dedicated to setup and cleanup. However, we’ve streamlined the processes to more effectively operate and enhance outcomes.”

Teams so well-versed in hand and wrist procedures facilitate treatment of routine conditions — such as carpal tunnel syndrome and stenosing tenosynovitis, which is commonly known as trigger finger — and more complex cases, such as finger and hand reattachments and lacerations around the hand and fingers that damage nerves, tendons and blood vessels. While such lacerations do not always require emergent surgery, repairing the damage is a meticulous process that requires an extensive team that delivers postoperative follow-up care.

“Repairing lacerations that affect multiple structures, sometimes in one sitting, is a complex surgical process, but we are fully-equipped to handle such an operation,” Dr. Everding says. “SOS is connected to an extensive network of physical therapists, including the SOS Orthopedic & Sports Therapy Department, with whom we work following operations that require extensive rehabilitation.”

Timely Care

SOS hand and wrist experts are dedicated to serving the patients with whom they share a community. Residents of Onondaga, Oswego, Oneida, Cortland and Madison counties have a local resource that provides the full spectrum of hand and wrist care.

“Many hand and wrist conditions require timely care,” Dr. Fatti says. “SOS surgeons are dedicated to meeting the needs of our patients, and we make every effort to ensure patients who call seeking treatment for a hand or wrist problem are seen the same day.”

Exceptional Outcomes

In 2015, the Hand Therapy Department of Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists Orthopedic & Sports Therapy (SOS O&ST) — located next door to the Hand and Wrist Center in the Widewaters Road office — posted impressive rehabilitation outcomes.

The department achieved 21.94 points of functional improvement with each patient on average, exceeding the risk-adjusted predicted change of 19.69 points. Moreover, the results were achieved in nearly three fewer visits per case (8.81 visits on average), compared with the predicted risk-adjusted norm of 11.73 visits per case.

The department also earned an overall satisfaction rating of 96.5 percent, with nearly 98 percent of patients indicating they would tell a family member/friend they were satisfied with their result.

Two certified hand therapists and one physical therapist assistant compose the Hand Therapy Department. SOS is currently recruiting additional hand therapists in anticipation of expansion into the northern and southwest suburbs of Syracuse within the next two years.


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