Tech Tools For Aching Joints

Dr. David Rovinsky, an orthopedic surgeon with Kaua‘i Medical Clinic’s Wilcox Bone & Joint Center, poses with an ankle model.

Technological advancements and surgical innovations that improve operating procedures and recovery time are the norm at Kaua‘i Medical Clinic’s Wilcox Bone & Joint Center.

Patients travel from around the state to receive the latest advanced technological procedures provided at Kaua‘i Medical Clinic’s Wilcox Bone & Joint Center in Līhu‘e. Since expanding its facilities last year, the center has been paving the way for health care, offering services unavailable anywhere else in Hawai‘i.

Eight new patient rooms and a state-of-the-art procedure area are among the department’s newest features. But what’s really setting the Wilcox Bone & Joint Center —which specializes in treating musculoskeletal ailments like sprains and fractures, carpal tunnel syndrome, and hip and knee injuries — apart are its technological advances. New techniques, like minimally invasive knee resurfacing procedures, are traditionally only available in large, academic medical centers. Wilcox Health is the only hospital in the state, in fact, that uses a comprehensive robotics program for partial-and total-knee replacements.

“This is truly a game-changer and defines the new standard of care for knee replacement surgery,” says Dr. David Rovinsky, a Kaua‘i Medical Clinic orthopedic surgeon since 2000.

Dr. Heather Hopkins of Kaua‘i Medical Clinic’s Wilcox Bone & Joint Center is the island’s only physiatrist, and specializes in rehabilitation, sports medicine and nonsurgical options.

An intuitive computer system, coupled with a handheld surgical tool, makes it possible for knee surgeries to be individualized for more precise results in the operating room. The system enables doctors like Rovinsky to build a 3-D virtual model of a patient’s knee that creates a custom plan and allows for surgical accuracy within 0.1 mm or 1/64 of an inch. Additionally,

the robotic technology means meeting the center’s goal of helping patients recover with less pain and a more speedy recovery.

“I love being able to help people maintain an active lifestyle and continue doing the things they love,” says Rovinsky.

Integrating technology and surgery to improve precision and recovery time has always been a motivation for Rovinsky, who sees a lot of patients come in with hip and knee arthritis. He utilizes the direct anterior approach for total hip replacements, which eliminates the need to cut into any muscle. He’s been practicing the procedure for a decade, and applauds the fact that the direct anterior approach also allows for total knee resurfacing, a type of knee replacement that enables the patient to keep their anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments.

“These techniques enable patients to get up and walk immediately after surgery, and even go home the same day,” Rovinsky says.

Orthopedic surgeon Alyssa Carnegie, who specializes in hand surgery, says that’s her favorite part of the job, too — seeing patients recover. She’s seen several traumatic injuries in the emergency department, where it’s difficult to imagine that anything can be done to help them. But being able to turn that predicament around and watch them completely heal is the most rewarding aspect of her job.

Kaua‘i Medical Clinic’s Wilcox Bone & Joint Center staff includes (from left) Terrie Johnson, physician assistant; Jennifer Ballard, nurse practitioner; Dr. Derek Johnson, orthopedic surgeon; Vera Vieira, nurse practitioner; Dr. Alyssa Carnegie, orthopedic hand surgeon; Dr. Daniel Judd, orthopedic surgeon; Dr. Heather Hopkins, physiatrist; Dr. David Rovinsky, orthopedic surgeon; and Dr. Tyler Chihara, podiatrist.

“When you put in long hours in the operating room on a case without knowing whether the patient will be able to recover good function, and then see the patient recover well and get back to doing the things that they like to do, that is a patient that will always stand out in your mind,” she says.

Given that Kaua‘i has an active population of all ages, the Wilcox Bone & Joint Center has a regular flow of patients each day, which physician assistant Terrie Johnson says can be challenging to manage at times.

“Injuries occur and health issues arise that need our care on a daily basis,” she says.

But somehow the staff of six doctors, three mid-level providers, two licensed practical nurses, 10 medical assistants and nine front office support always find a way to make sure everyone receives proper care. They’re not only able to provide state-of-theart treatments, but also implement the kind of care that’s only accessible within small communities.

“It is nice to see people who I know, such as my past elementary teacher or a family relative or friend,” says nurse practitioner Jen Ballard. “I love to take care of people, especially at their weakest moments, and help them find encouragement and reassurance.”

But even though the staff enjoys bonding with patients, they’d rather see them healthy and happy outside of the clinic, and not booking appointments for injuries. One of the best ways to avoid making appointments at the Wilcox Bone & Joint Center, according to Rovinsky, is to maintain a healthy weight. Because for every extra pound of weight, seven additional pounds of pressure are exerted on the knees.

“Also, motion is the lotion,” he says.

In other words, stretching keeps a full range of motion in the joints.

Still, when patients come to him, he’s happy to be of assistance.

“I feel blessed every day that the work I do has inherent value and helps people directly,” he says.

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