Patients like Phyllis Osborne are the reason Dr. Ali Oliashirazi set goals for the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine when he arrived six years ago.
To cure hip, knee and shoulder pains that developed in recent years, she wanted physicians who would care about her as an individual and provide her the best medicine for a variety of orthopaedic problems. Oliashirazi wanted to build a department known for its competency, compassion and diversity in the field of orthopaedics.
Oliashirazi, professor and chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, set out to put the program on the map by recruiting top-notch physicians focused on compassionate patient care, creating a single stop for advanced orthopaedic surgery and then using that program to teach others. Years of experience and growth have resulted in accomplished goals and accolades.
Recruitment has brought highly trained physicians into a department that will soon have a larger home catering to the growing number of physicians, their expertise and the patients they care for by relocating to the ground floor of the Marshall University Medical Center on the campus of Cabell Huntington Hospital.
An orthopaedic residency program will soon start at Marshall University, marking a significant accomplishment for the department that continues to add surgeons with orthopaedic specialties and build a reputation among patients nationwide.
"I think it's wonderful that the department is growing. You have a choice now for your orthopaedics," Osborne says. "A lot, and I mean a lot, of patients go to doctors based on their reputation and I would recommend our doctors to anyone."
The 70-year-old Chesapeake, Ohio resident had two joints replaced and has also had orthopaedic visits for a shoulder injury.
With the addition of the new faculty, the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery is now prepared to care for a wide spectrum of orthopaedic problems, including anything from a two-year-old's spine, an infant's foot or a 70-year-old's hip.
A trip upstairs or a lengthy walk anywhere becomes more difficult when you're recovering from surgery, especially when the surgery affects your legs, back or hips.
Osborne, like many patients suffering from hip pain, struggled from chair to chair. She considered walking a chore, and a shopping trip was nearly impossible.
The struggles of patients like Osborne were at the forefront of the effort to relocate the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery from its now cramped home on the second floor of the Marshall University Medical Center into ground floor space vacated by the Department of Internal Medicine. The offices will now be just steps from the front doors instead of several stories up.
"We will be moving to our own area that will have more patient space and should reduce our patient wait time," Oliashirazi says.
The added clinical space will make room for additional surgeons who are still being added to the roster of eight physicians in the department. It will also provide space to expand the services and specialties already provided.
"The added clinical and office space will relieve the growing pains we have experienced in recent years by the influx of patients drawn to this program," Oliashirazi says.
The August announcement of the launch of Marshall University's orthopaedic residency program was a step of great significance for the school and the local medical community.
Governor Joe Manchin announced the program alongside Charles H. McKown, M.D., dean of the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, Brent Marsteller, president and chief executive officer of Cabell Huntington Hospital and Marshall University President Stephen J. Kopp.
Oliashirazi radiates excitement when he talks about the near future of orthopaedics at Marshall University and Cabell Huntington Hospital. The addition of an orthopaedic residency program is a rare accomplishment for any medical facility. In the past 12 years, only two new programs have been given the green light for a new program that will bring in the brightest and most passionate medical students to study orthopaedic surgery.
"You can be excellent at what you do, but to teach it, you need to know your material at another level," Oliashirazi says. "Our goal with this program is to populate our state with orthopaedic surgeons from our program. Our next goal is to work diligently to make this residency program one of the finest in the country."
Growth has been years in the making
After Osborne's hip pain was gone, she developed a problem with her left knee. A knee replacement by Oliashirazi cured that ailment, too. Years later, a fall at home left her with shoulder pain that she feared would result in another surgery.
A second opinion from Charles Giangarra, M.D., chief of the sports medicine section of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, relieved Osborne's fears for her shoulder.
"He was very conservative and talked about surgery only if it was absolutely necessary," Osborne says. "He calmed my fears by talking to me at a level that I understood. That is really the way they all have been with me."
In the years since Oliashirazi was the only orthopaedic surgeon on the staff at Marshall University's Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, significant work has been accomplished to create a philosophy to succeed at what you do best.
"Our vision has always been to have a practice where everyone is providing the best, most cutting-edge care to our patients without ever losing our compassion," Oliashirazi says.
The faculty physicians in the department were brought together to complement each other in the areas of training, subspecialties and personality.
"We wanted to create a department that is top-notch and that the whole country would respect," Oliashirazi says. "As such, we are extremely selective about whom we chose to interview, let alone to give them an invitation to become part of our faculty."
After Oliashirazi's arrival, the department added Dr. Chuck Giangarra, a well-known sports medicine specialist. Giangarra came to Marshall University with an excitement for the future potential of his specialty in the community and for the great expectations for the department.
"The growth has been quick, and the faculty we've added has been outstanding," Giangarra says.
The department now includes eight physicians with orthopaedic specialties that include care for sports-related injuries; arthroscopic knee and shoulder surgery; reconstructive foot and ankle surgery; adult and pediatric spine surgery; cartilage injuries; total and partial joint replacement and computer-assisted surgery for hip and knee replacement.
The recent arrival of Charles E. "Ted" Shuff, M.D., a pediatric and adult spine specialist, adds to the array of surgery options. He has experience in treating traumatic spinal injuries and in elective spinal surgery for a wide range of spine disorders.
Zach Tankersley, D.P.M., a surgical podiatrist, brings a specific talent for reconstructive foot and ankle surgery for adult and pediatric patients and non-operative treatment for clubfoot in infants.
In the field of orthopaedics, Oliashirazi has gained national and international attention for his surgical techniques related to hip and knee replacements that keep him actively speaking and presenting his work to physicians worldwide.
To complement those surgeries, William Wallace, M.D., one of the country's first orthopaedic hospitalists, provides perioperative medical management for joint replacement patients. He sees patients before their operation, makes sure they are as healthy as they can be before surgery, manages their care throughout their hospitalization and then returns them to the care of their medical doctor.
For the most severe orthopaedic injuries, James Day, M.D., is a fellowship trained orthopaedic traumatologist. His expertise ranges from care of patients with injuries from cartilage damage to devastating pelvic and acetubular fractures.
"I found this team to be very cohesive," Day says. "It is a very friendly environment. The team was eager to have someone with my background and I like the area, the small-town atmosphere and the mountains. It seemed like the perfect place to come. They're a great group of people. I can't think of a more pleasant and professional situation."
Whether an orthopaedic injury happens to a seasoned athlete or the weekend warrior, the Department of Orthopaedics is able to care for patients of all ages. Marshall University student athletes are also among the sports medicine section's patients.
Giangarra, chief of the sports medicine section, says the experience and local knowledge of the three sports medicine physicians are among its strengths.
"Additional physicians offer quicker access for patients, and their combined expertise provides high-quality treatment for a wide range of patients," Giangarra says.
The established orthopaedic team, access to a Division I sports program and the active mindset of many Tri-State area residents convinced Andrew Marcus, D.O., to join the department.
"I was very excited about the direction of the university. I wanted to be involved in teaching residents and medical students," Marcus says.
Gregory Hendricks, M.D., a primary care sports medicine specialist who completed a fellowship at Marshall University, says he is proud to have his name associated with the physicians in the department. He treats the athletic patient population non-operatively and turns them over to the surgeons as necessary.
As the department continues to expand, patients will be offered additional specialties, according to Oliashirazi.
"What we want to do is to have a center where we aren't just at the top of our game here. We want to be the top team everywhere," Oliashirazi says. "We have put Marshall University on the national orthopaedic surgery map."