PBMC opens new orthopedic surgical center

BARBARELLEN KOCH PHOTO | PBMC and local officials cut the ribbon on the medical center's new orthopedic surgery center.

Peconic Bay Medical Center’s new Krauss Center for Joint Replacements celebrated an opening ceremony last Friday afternoon in Riverhead, declaring the center’s program a leader in orthopedic procedures that will be mimicked throughout the world.

Hospital officials cut a ribbon to signify the event at the Krauss Center, named for orthopedic surgeon Dr. Eugene Krauss. In the past five years, Dr. Krauss has performed 600 joint replacements at PBMC without a single incident of infection, officials said.

His team includes some doctors with whom he has worked before, and he applauded the entire PBMC organization for its staffing of doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, physical therapists and office workers.

The new facility is located about two miles west of the hospital in the professional complex on Commerce Drive off Route 58. It employs about 50, including doctors, nurses, physical therapists and office workers, said hospital president and CEO Andrew Mitchell.

The concept began with a chance ferry ride between Orient Point and New London in 2005, when Dr. Krauss and Alan Schechter, the hospital’s executive vice president, began talking about what it would take to expand PBMC’s orthopedic surgical unit.

Today, the new Krauss Center for Joint Replacements has enabled hospital officials to brag that they have the largest such program in all of Suffolk County, Mr. Mitchell said.

The center is where patients first are diagnosed and where they receive post-operative care, including physical therapy, while the surgeries are done at PBMC’s Kanas Center for Advanced Surgery.

When Dr. Krauss first came to PBMC about 10 years ago, there was only one orthopedic surgeon and surgical suites were booked for such procedures only five days a month. If a patient needed an orthopedic procedure at any other time, it meant transport to Stony Brook University Hospital, he said. Today, there are 24 orthopedic surgeons on staff.

“To say that he is a man with a vision is an understatement,” Mr. Mitchell said about Dr. Krauss.

What’s special about the Krauss Center isn’t the number of joint replacements it tackles or simply the skill of the surgeons, Dr. Krauss said. It’s the organization of the center, from the time a patient first enters the facility through to post-operative care, he said. His team of doctors, nurses, physical therapists and office staff make the center special, he said.

Dr. Krauss will be heading to a conference in London to talk about the design of the new center and is also being invited to speak with other medical groups in the United States that want to try to mirror the Krauss Center’s organizational and business plan, Mr. Mitchell said.

“Our program is profitable and sustainable,” Dr. Krauss said.

“It’s about taking care of them so they leave here healthy,” he said about the patients. With the hospital’s Kanas Surgical Suite and its state-of-the-art equipment, PBMC is becoming a destination for patients who live west of Riverhead and need such procedures, he said.

“It’s a market opportunity,” Dr. Krauss said.

He described the surgical suite as the finest in the tri-state area.

When Dr. Krauss isn’t in Riverhead, he’s a frequent traveler to West Africa, where he and a medical team he has recruited perform joint replacement surgeries pro bono.

To not be able to walk is a crisis in any society, Dr. Krauss said. But in areas where poverty abounds and political factions make everyday life dangerous, those who can’t walk are largely thrust aside by society, he said.

PBMC is also eyeing other parcels in Riverhead for possible further expansion, officials said.

Suffolk County Legislator Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches) said he learned from Mr. Mitchell that a discussion is taking place about PBMC perhaps taking over the area along Roanoke Avenue in Riverhead, just across from the hospital complex. A medical center building on that site encompasses North Fork Radiology, among other offices.

“We’re expanding everywhere,” Mr. Mitchell said in response to a question about the potential project. But he cautioned that at this stage the idea is only conceptual; how and when it might occur hasn’t moved beyond the recognition that as the hospital offers more services, it needs more room.

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