Yale New Haven Hospital (YNHH) announced it is following up on a promise to provide better outpatient care in New Haven—this time with same-day joint procedures, and a therapy regimen most people can do from home.
Wednesday evening, hospital administrators, funders, and orthopedic surgeons gathered to break that news—and break ground—on an ambulatory center for musculoskeletal care at the Saint Raphael Campus.
Nestled at the back of the Chapel Street hospital, this new musculoskeletal component of the McGivney Surgical Center will focus specifically on same-day surgeries for bone, joint and spine care.
The groundbreaking comes five years after Yale-New Haven Hospital merged with the Hospital of Saint Raphael in 2012. A $7 million investment, the center will comprise six operating rooms, 23 prep and post-operative recovery beds, an eight-seated patient alcove, therapeutic evaluation for return home (and an overnight stay at Saint Raphael’s if patients are deemed not ready), and the rollout of a remote rehabilitation program called VERA, for Virtual Exercise Rehabilitation Assistant.
After it opens in 2019, Yale New Haven Health President Richard D’Aquila estimated, the center will serve around 3,000 new surgery patients a year.
“We are breaking ground on the musculoskeletal center of the future,” said Mary O’ Connor, director of musculoskeletal care at YNHH. She recalled that during her days as a surgery resident at the Mayo Clinic, patients who arrived for joint replacements remained in the hospital, largely bedridden, for up to two weeks after their surgeries. They wanted to go home, and doctors wanted to see them getting into patterns of rehabilitation.
In the year 2017, she noted, “we do those surgeries and send healthy patients home the same day.”
“It is an amazing evolution,” she said of the change in care the center represented. “We are moving into the future with innovation.”
The purpose of the new center is twofold, said D’Aquila. First, it doubles down on Yale’s promise to rehabilitate the Saint Raphael Campus, where new centers for geriatric care and gastrointestinal surgery have sprouted in the past three years. Currently, he added, patients seeking same-day, outpatient musculoskeletal surgery don’t have an option in New Haven. They generally head to the Connecticut Hospital for Special Surgery in Stamford, or Hartford Health Care. The addition will bring new patients in, and invite local patients to stay close to home.
But it also dovetails with Yale Health’s increasing mission to provide holistic care, D’Aquila said. At several satellites, patients with spine, back or joint pain first meet with a physiatrist, and speak about treatment options that don’t specifically include surgery. Those who decide, with medical input, that surgery is the best course of action will now take on a new course of treatment at the center, that begins with prep for same-day surgery and ends with VERA therapy sessions.
“This center is going to serve all of Connecticut,” D’Aquila said after the groundbreaking, scanning a timeline of the hospital’s history that lines one of its hallways.
As attendees gathered with hardhats and decorative, heavy hammers, wailing away at chunks of white wall where the center will be, Yale School of Medicine Chief Executive Officer Paul Taheri stood to the side with a sheepish grin on his face.
“You’re not going to do it?!” O’Connor asked.
“No,” he answered. “I’m saving that for work.”