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New UVA center can care for 600 orthopedic patients a day

UVA orthopedics saw 110,000 patients last year. At its new center, the department hopes to see even more.
UVA orthopedics saw 110,000 patients last year. At its new center, the department hopes to see even more.

Dr. Bobby Chhabra has been planning the new center for 11 years. He could see that demand for orthopedic services would grow.

“When I started as chair we did 58 surgical cases through orthopedics," he recalls. "Last year we did 9,000.”

So the building he helped design contains 90 exam rooms and four surgical suites to repair or replace joints: hips, knees and shoulders are the most common and then ankles, elbows, wrists and finger joints.

Time is money, and Chhabra says most patients will be in and out.

“The trend is to have joint replacements done within 23 hours, so some people who are healthy enough can go home the same day," he explains. "For those who need to stay overnight we have an overnight stay unit. We’ll have food services for them. We’ll have therapy while they’re here, because the therapy center is right next to the surgery center.”

And, of course, that means employing a sizable staff.

“When I started as chair we had about 15 surgeons here – less than ten years ago," Chhabra says. "We have 30 now, and I’m hiring four more this summer. We have 16 physicians’ assistants, 25 residents, nine fellows and hundreds of nurses.”

By having so many services in one location, he believes this facility will allow medical teams to work more closely while providing convenience for patients, and he intends to be one of them.

“I’ve got back arthritis. I’ve got knee arthritis. I’ve got shoulder arthritis," says the 52-year-old physician. "I can see all of my doctors here in one building, and also I can get the imaging and the injections and the treatment that I need and certain surgeries will be here as well.”

The center also makes custom prosthetics and orthotics for patients who need them. UVA hopes it can lower costs and still make money by providing so much service under a single roof.

Updated: February 17, 2022 at 12:46 PM EST
Editor's Note: UVA Health is a financial supporter of Radio IQ.
Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief