In early 2020, Missoula Bone and Joint will be able to perform another 1,000 surgeries a year on top of its current 3,000 surgeries following a $16 million expansion.

The new facility also will have double the amount of operating rooms at four and will allow the center to hire roughly 30 new positions for a total of a little over 200 employees.

On Monday, the private practice held a grand opening celebration for its new two-story Outpatient Surgery Center at 2360 Mullan Road right next to the original headquarters, built in 2001. Missoula Bone and Joint outgrew the space as more and more patients come in for everything from a total hip replacement to repairing a torn rotator cuff.

“This facility will be better for our staff and better for our patients,” said CEO Sami Spencer during the tour.

The building will also be better for energy consumption. With a super-insulated building envelope, a ground-source heat pump and 160 solar panels on the roof, the building is designed to use 24% less energy than a similar-sized facility.

“The other (original surgery center) is 5,100 square feet, and this one is almost 32,000,” Spencer said. 

The goal for the new facility is to greatly expand capacity for outpatient surgery, otherwise known as ambulatory surgery. Expected to be open for surgery in early 2020 after it is completely sterilized, the new center will now be the largest such facility in western Montana.

It's "designed to provide a comfortable, safe, efficient, and cost-effective surgical experience," according to marketing and outreach specialist Julie McLennan. She also noted that although the outpatient surgery center model is new to Missoula, it is a well-established model for surgical success in many places in the country.

At an outpatient facility, patients can only stay for 23 hours and 59 minutes at the most, but they’ll be able to stay overnight. The facility currently performs about 3,000 surgeries a year and sees roughly 300 patients a day.

“We’re expecting to be able to add another 1,000 surgeries with the outpatient joints and spine cases,” Spencer said.

A dysfunctional hip, knee or other joint is no longer a sentence to a sedentary lifestyle thanks to rapid advances in medical technology, and more and more people are taking advantage of replacements.

Advances in technology also have led to quicker recovery time, she noted.

“The key to a quicker recovery time is the use of minimally invasive, muscle-sparing surgical techniques and advanced surgical pain management techniques for outpatient surgery,” Spencer noted. “Nerve blocks, steroids, oral pain medications, local anesthetic injections and anti-inflammatory medications are all examples of the different analgesia techniques we can use.”

Kelly O’Brien, the clinical director of the ambulatory surgery center, said she’s been blown away at how well the new operating rooms are designed and the quality of the equipment.

“These are the most state-of-the-art (operating rooms) I’ve ever seen,” she said.

Dr. Jeffrey LaPorte, an orthopedic surgeon and the medical director at the new center, said the mutual goal for patients and providers is to have surgery patients discharged as soon as possible, later the same day, to recover in the comfort of their own home.

“People recover faster at home,” he explained. “We’re extremely excited. The four operating rooms and the bigger space will be a lot nicer. We’re getting squished for time in the other space.”

His team gave input for the local architects, MMW Architects, to incorporate into their design for local builder Jackson Contracting to build.

“Many of us have been around for many years, and many of us have been to a variety of hospitals and surgery centers, so we helped with the design,” LaPorte explained.

The facility has conference rooms for "joint classes," Spencer said, so patients can learn how to properly rehab. There are kid-friendly and family-friendly waiting rooms, and the whole building was designed with large windows to allow maximum natural light. The goal, however, is for people to spend as little time as possible away from the comfort of home.

"People used to need three or four days, and now we can get them out in less than 24 hours," Spencer said. "With advances with pain management and anesthesia, people feel so much better."

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