If you’re wondering why it seems that orthopedic centers in the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado are growing by leaps and bounds, you need look no further than to aging Baby Boomers, 10,000 of whom turn 65 every day, according to Pew Research.
Boomers signing on with Medicare, however, and looking for relief from bad knees or hips, are just part of the story. The rest has to do with a growing population — both young and old — drawn to the active lifestyle that Colorado affords them, said Mike Bergerson, CEO of Orthopaedic & Spine Center of the Rockies.
“In Northern Colorado, and Colorado in general, there is a lot of population growth compared to other states. Colorado is very active in everything from biking to club sports to running and hiking,” he added.
And where there are sports, there are injuries. Timothy Pater, president of Front Range Orthopedics and Spine Center, with locations in Longmont, Lafayette and Frederick, said via email, “Everybody knows that Colorado is a very active and fit population, and most individuals are at some point going to require our services. We know that our patients expect excellence from us and we do everything we can to exceed those expectations.”
And that includes expanding and building. “Our new building project (a 32,000-square-foot- building in southern Longmont) is what we see as a natural next step. We have steadily outgrown our space as we have expanded our services and size. We added a second office location 11 years ago and a third office location three years ago based on area growth and the demands of our patients.” The new building is expected to be ready for move-in sometime in early 2017.
“In our current space, we offer all of the services we will provide at the new building, but it will be a footprint that greatly improves the patient experience. We try to offer a vertically integrated full-service orthopedic experience so that when you walk through the door we can offer you everything you need under one roof.”
FRO has 10 doctors and seven physician assistants.
Bergerson noted that when he came onboard with Orthopaedic & Spine Center of the Rockies in 2006, there were 12 physicians. A short 10 years later, the group has 29 physicians, all of whom are subspecialized.
Hip scopes — a relatively new procedure now favored by many 40- and 50-year-olds before signing on for a hip replacement — is one of 13 subspecialties provided at the practice. Such specialties, Bergerson added, have helped spur growth in the practice as well.
“When physicians focus on a particular body part, it allows them to keep up on the latest/greatest and cutting-edge technology, and many are involved in research. Instead of 50 hip replacements a year, our physicians do 400 to 500 a year. This makes them very proficient. They understand the procedure and the intricacies of what could go wrong during surgery or post op,” Bergerson said.
Expanding the Loveland medical building is priority No. 1 for OCR, with groundbreaking expected mid-November. The two-story, 60,000 square-foot addition to the current building at 3470 E. 15th St. will include a surgery center and overnight facility with 20 beds.
“It will be a replica of what we have in Fort Collins,” Bergerson said. Additional expansion for the Fort Collins clinic — which added 10,000 square feet in 2012 — is back on the drawing board but with no immediate timeline. “We have flood-plain issues where the clinic is located, but we do have the ability to build up,” he said.
And just this year, OSCR opened a clinic in the Greeley Medical Building on 16th Street. “We hired three new doctors to help with that expansion,” Bergerson said. The clinic does not include a surgery center at this time. Bergerson said that with the growth the Greeley site has experienced since its May opening, a stand-alone building is not out of the question in the years ahead.
BoulderCentre for Orthopedics — an expanded practice resulting from a merger between Boulder Orthopedics and Mapleton Hill Orthopedics — now operates from the second floor at its new location on Pearl Parkway. The 22,000-square-foot space has allowed for twice the exam rooms, in addition to more elbow room all the way around. The medical group has 13 physicians and seven physician assistants, along with six physical therapists and one occupational therapist.
CEO Cathy Higgins said, “We live in a very athletic community and see the full gamut of injuries from pediatrics to geriatrics. When you’re an extreme athlete, you have extreme accidents.”
Higgins said future expansion is definitely an option in the next five to 10 years and most likely will result from internal growth and collaborating with other surgical specialties. BoulderCentre shares a first-floor surgical suite and MRI with Boulder Surgery Center.
Although Boulder Bone and Joint hasn’t added space, it has added orthopedic urgent-care services staffed by a physician assistant with an orthopedic surgeon on call as a way to combat hefty fees charged by popup emergency rooms and urgent care centers, said Jeff Buck, clinic manager. BBJ charges general office rates to patients who come in after hours with a litany of issues ranging from sprained ankles to broken bones. Urgent-care services are provided from 3 to 9 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and from noon to 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.
“We’re steadily getting busier,” Buck said. “If this is successful, we plan to open more of these in Louisville and Broomfield.” He also noted that United Healthcare and Blue Cross “absolutely love” the orthopedics urgent-care concept and have “given us their blessing to push forward. They see the benefit as well.”