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Tapping Into the Potential of Total Joints
Surgery centers are building for the future as case demand shows no signs of slowing down.
Dan Cook | Editor-in-Chief
ROOM TO MOVE The ORs at St. Cloud Surgery Center are large enough to accommodate the additional staff members and instrument trays needed to perform joint replacement surgery.   |   St. Cloud Surgery Center

St. Cloud (Minn.) Surgery Center underwent a recent renovation to accommodate a steady increase in demand for outpatient arthroplasties. The center expanded its sterile processing department by 8,000 square feet and built two 650-square-foot operating rooms. Last year, its surgeons completed close to 1,000 hip and knee replacements. Orthopedic surgeon Joseph Nessler, MD — who performs about eight hip or knee replacements on a typical day, plus several complex arthroscopies — says the facility is seeing a 15% to 20% growth in case volumes and predicts the number of joint replacements will blow past last year’s figure. It’s clear that business is booming in outpatient total joints, and facilities like St. Cloud that want to add the procedures or expand their current caseload should plan on increasing the size of their ORs as well as their storage and instrument reprocessing capacities, according to Dr. Nessler.

Larger ORs give the surgical team more room to move and decrease the density of people around the sterile field, factors Dr. Nessler thinks are important to improve case efficiencies and reduce infection risks.

“The whole design perspective has changed,” he says. “Many older ASCs have smaller ORs that can’t handle technology-intensive procedures. Rooms in new ortho facilities are being built bigger to accommodate complex cases such as total joints.”

Dr. Nessler says high-volume orthopedic facilities must have the ability to reprocess instrument trays in a timely fashion several times throughout a day. He also points to the importance of building enough PACU bays to accommodate the extended recoveries of total joint patients before they’re ready to be discharged.

“It’s clear joint replacements can be performed in ASCs, but facilities have to plan for being able to perform more than a handful of cases per day as demand continues to increase,” says Dr. Nessler.

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