Howard County residents receiving care from the University of Maryland Medical Center's Department of Orthopedics can now get that care a lot closer to home.
A new orthopedics outpatient clinic, in the works for several years, opened Sept. 17 in Columbia.
"You look at the way health care is delivered, and where people are," said Bill Tucker, chief corporate officer for the University of Maryland's Faculty Physicians, Inc., the group operating the new facility.
"Not everyone wants to come to downtown Baltimore for every service. We need to think about having satellite practices in the suburbs so we can serve those patients. ... It's important to continue to expand our footprint."
The new clinic, located at 5550 Knoll North Drive in Columbia, offers a variety of services, said L.K. Thompson, senior administrator for UM's Department of Orthopedics.
With 12 examination rooms and a rotating line-up of physicians, a patient can get whatever he or she needs without having to travel to other University of Maryland locations in College Park, Timonium, Baltimore or Bel Air, Thompson said.
Tucker said the variety of physicians at the clinic means more options for patients.
"These are people who, in addition to being skilled clinicians, are researchers and teachers," he said. "You're getting the best of the best as far as quality goes."
And, services may expand, Thompson said.
"The site can afford other growth, and we can have several different sub-specialties on site at the same time," Thompson said. "We have what's referred to as hand, foot and ankle care, upper-extremity care. There's X-rays, we'll have spine care, muscular-skeletal oncology, and lastly, we'll have trauma. ... Patients who come here can get what they need, whatever they need."
An open house at the clinic is planned for later this month, Thompson said, so the community can get a feel for all the facility has to offer.
"We're all growing older, and orthopedics is something that, at some point, people will need, and we want to be able to be there and have that presence in the community, plain and simple," Thompson said.
The clinic also offers weekly sports injury sessions, 9-11 a.m. on Saturdays, with James Dreese, a sports medicine physician and team physician for the University of Maryland Terrapins.
"This allows injured athletes from high school to come in and have treatments for the injuries they've suffered on Saturday, as opposed to waiting till Monday," Dreese said. "It works like an urgent care facility, except we've got specialists to see the patients, evaluate them and get them on the road to recovery."
Dreese is also the chairman of the Howard County Sports Medical Advisory Panel, which creates policies for county sports for the health and safety of student athletes, and the supervising physician for most of the athletic trainers in county schools.
"I think there's a need (for such clinics) through all counties throughout the state," Dreese said. "It's not something that's in existence anywhere in the state, to have a service like this. It's a reflection of our commitment to Howard County and my responsibility as chair and supervisor for so many of our athletic trainers there."