Groundbreaking Surgeons Break Ground

Lucy Gellman PhotoYale 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.”

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posted by: wendy1 on May 11, 2017  8:38am

They should hire more staff immediately.  Hosp. administrators make more $$ than a nurse, a cop, and a fireman put together.  Unfortunately a business mafia runs our 2 hospitals with inadequate semi-slave labor.  Morale is bad as it would be when workers are pushed to the brink.  It’s like asking line-workers in a factory line to double their speed (read May 3 New Yorker).

posted by: Yale395 on May 11, 2017  9:19am

Such a shame that someone would have such hate.  Over 3000 jobs were saved when YALE Hospital took over our old hospital most of us got increases and better benefits.
Thank you YALE New Haven

posted by: Renewhavener on May 11, 2017  10:03am

A $7M Ortho investment kind of pales in comparison to the $150MM that HH put into their Bone and Joint, (which actually looks like a bone and joint which is spatially interesting also):—joint-institute-officially-opens-today

Since HH is already open too, Yale is also late to market.

Not to mention, but I will that heard they are losing CT Othro to MidState as well (Guessing that’s a reimbursement thing and not even sure that it is true, so sorry to promulgate rumor if it isn’t).

Regardless, these three aspects are kind of game, set and match in Hartford’s favor when it comes to this competitive space.

posted by: HappyinNH on May 11, 2017  6:44pm


This is fundamentally different than the Hartford Hospital’s surgical institute approach. The YNHH approach is holistic and a plan to first deploy non-surgical treatments to treat musculoskeletal conditions. Including so-called alternative treatments such as massage and yoga. See this months’ Consumer Reports on treating back pain without addictive pain prescriptions and surgeries at lower risk of addiction and lower overall healthcare costs. The center will also treat musculoskeletal disorders such as MS that cannot be treated surgically.

posted by: wendy1 on May 11, 2017  8:52pm

Yale 395, you sound like an administrator.  When Yale took over SR, workers lost their jobs and service has suffered.  Some of those workers came to NewHavenWorks looking for work.  And what do you mean by better benefits?  I think you are mistaken.  Yale always chooses to cut overhead.