Letter From the Chairman

Letter from the Chairman

Douglas R. Dirschl, MD

At the time I write this letter, three years have passed since the creation of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Chicago Medicine. I could not be prouder of the accomplishments we have made in this short time—they have far exceeded my expectations and I am so proud of and grateful to every individual in our department, as each of their contributions have been instrumental to our success.

Our paramount focus has remained patient service and access. We are building an atmosphere where nearly every patient request for access is answered with “yes,” and that atmosphere is already driving significant improvements. Through a great deal of hard work, outpatient visits grew 70 percent in the past two fiscal years. Patient satisfaction scores are also climbing and outpatient clinics are functioning better than ever before. Surgical cases have soared to new heights, and patient satisfaction with their surgical experience has also soared.

Our faculty have continued to get busier, led by the outstanding growth in Dr. Lewis Shi’s practice and by extremely strong growth in our spine group—Drs. James Mok and Michael Lee. Two outstanding faculty joined us last fall, are filling key roles in our department, and are ahead of projections for patient volumes. Aravind Athiviraham, MD, a sports orthopaedic surgeon, came to us from a promising career at Baylor University, and Megan Meislin Conti Mica, MD, joined us after a hand fellowship at the Mayo Clinic and additional experience in shoulder surgery in Belgium.

Three new faculty will join us in the summer of 2016 and will fill key roles in many of our clinical and educational programs. We were very excited to recruit Jennifer Wolf, MD, from the University of Connecticut, where she has had an exemplary career as a hand surgeon and researcher. Dr. Wolf will start work with us in 2016 and will help lead our hand program to a very bright future. Kelly Hynes, MD, is coming to us from a foot and ankle fellowship at the University of British Columbia; she will bring her thoughtful and highly personable approach to our foot and ankle program, where we strongly need to expand our capacity to meet patient demand. Finally, Tessa Balach, MD will come back to the University of Chicago to serve a key role in our arthroplasty and musculoskeletal oncology programs, as well as assume a leadership role in our resident educational programs. Dr. Balach comes to us from a promising career at the University of Connecticut, where she serves as residency program director and has built a strong clinical practice due to her personality and marketing skills.

We have seen excellent progress in many of our scholarly endeavors this year as well. Our commitment to assembling and our ability to analyze large datasets to better answer clinical questions and help assess value in musculoskeletal care has begun to pay solid dividends. Manuscripts using big data to assess areas such as shoulder surgery, spine care, fragility fractures and arthritis care are but a few examples of areas in which our endeavors have led to publication in key journals. Orthopaedic trainees and Pritzker medical students have been invaluable contributors to these efforts, further cementing this line of investigation into our educational programs. Even more exciting are recent plans to leverage our expertise in computerized image analysis of radiographs and institutional expertise in genomics and image processing to begin investigations that link genomic data, radiographic information and clinical outcomes in exciting ways that may predict disease progression and lead to customized musculoskeletal care.

I am excited about the outstanding progress we have already made, as well as the opportunities ahead to advance orthopaedics at the University of Chicago Medicine and on a national level. We will, in the next two years, be expanding our clinical locations to the southwest suburbs and to the South Loop, and we will open new level 1 adult trauma center at our Hyde Park campus. This center will add greatly to our educational programs and will add immeasurably to the services we provide South Side Chicago communities. There is no doubt our future is highly exciting!

Douglas R. Dirschl, MD
Lowell T. Coggeshall Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery Chairman, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine

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