Trauma Center spurs growth in orthopaedic surgery

By Jason Strelzow, MD, and Douglas Dirschl, MD

May 2018 arrived; with it came the flood of adult trauma patients. The years of planning, consulting and preparation were over. For the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, it was a great opportunity. New faculty specializing in trauma were on scene to provide outstanding fracture care and an enhanced educational and clinical experience in orthopaedic trauma for the residency program.

Despite the passing of nearly 30 years since the last Level 1 adult orthopaedic trauma patient came through the doors of UCMC, the arrival of new trauma patients was managed seamlessly by faculty and residents alike. Clinical care of multiply-injured adult trauma patients is now part and parcel of the University of Chicago resident experience - and now a core offering of the Department.

With the trauma center up and running, UCMC is now a frequent destination for the Chicago Fire Department EMS squads. By the end of the second month of trauma care at UCMC, some 644 trauma patients had been treated, 266 of whom required surgical treatment. As expected, over 50% of those patients needing operative treatment have primarily orthopaedic injuries, keeping the Department’s trauma faculty and the residents on the trauma rotation very busy.

Jason Strelzow, MD, (left) and Douglas Dirschl, MD, (right) are two of the Department’s specialists in orthopaedic trauma.
The new Emergency Department

Orthopaedics management at the University of Chicago has required the adoption of a team approach to patient care. Our trauma team has become the nucleus for our patients with nurses Rashana Thompson and Gina Thomas ensuring clinics roll smoothly and PAs Haley Bloom and Alana Eatinger ensuring high quality inpatient care and smooth OR deployment. Additionally, the resident experience in trauma has been enhanced, with 4 residents at any given time on the trauma service at UCMC. The resident exposure is now completely immersive, with a broad trauma experience from fingertip to toe and everything in between.

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”: the more things change, the more it’s the same thing. Despite the seemingly large changes that trauma brings we find ourselves fundamentally continuing on our mission to provide exceptional care to our patients with a focus on developing a world renowned center for orthopaedic care. I look forward to the future as we continue to refine the experience and explore how we can optimally serve our community’s needs.

Jason Strelzow, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery. Specializing in orthopaedic trauma, Dr. Strelzow joined the Department in 2017.
Douglas R. Dirschl, MD, is the Lowell T. Coggeshall Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery. An expert in fracture care and orthopaedic trauma, he joined the Department as its Inaugural Chair in 2013. In 2018 he became the first Physician-in-Chief of the UChicago Medicine Musculoskeletal Center.
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