Founded in 1970 Orthopedic Associates of Hartford, PC (OAH) is one of Connecticut’s largest and most respected orthopedic specialty groups. As a total orthopedic care center OAH has 31 physicians specializing in orthopedic surgery and dealing with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and injuries of the bones, muscles, tendons, nerves and ligaments. Along with its 21 advanced practitioners and nearly 30 physical therapists OAH takes a full-service approach to serve the orthopedic needs of patients at nine locations, four state-of-the-art surgery centers, onsite physical and occupational therapy, an MRI center and walk-in urgent care available daily, nights and weekends. OAH’s Glastonbury urgent care at 345 Western Blvd., opened in the fall of 2014 and its Farmington urgent care center opened in the spring of 2015. We asked two of OAH’s doctors about some of the basics of what they and the urgent care centers offer.
Dr. Stephen L. Davis
Q. What is the benefit of orthopedic-focused urgent care?
A. Orthopedic injuries and complaints include some of the most common reasons for doctor visits nationwide. Providing access to specialty specific care in orthopedics improves treatment for patients, reduces the number of unnecessary doctor visits, and increases patient satisfaction.
Orthopedic-specific urgent care allows for timely assessment and treatment of orthopedic injuries. We can splint or brace various injuries without delaying for specialty referrals, order MRIs or other advanced testing, and we can do this with shorter wait times than ERs. Occasionally, patients will need sedation or other more emergent treatments for which we can refer the patient to the ER only if necessary.
Because our group has subspecialty training in every area of orthopedics, we are uniquely suited to care for all potential orthopedic problems a patient may have. This way, our patients can feel confident that an expert is caring for their problem, no matter which body part is affected.
Q. What are the most common injuries you treat?
A. Joint sprains, muscle strains, finger and hand injuries, and knee and back pain are some of the most common complaints we see. Most injuries can be treated with rest, icing, anti-inflammatory medication, and physical therapy.
Proper footwear is the simplest solution for preventing injuries in winter. Crampons come in various brands and sizes, and can be slipped over normal shoes to gain increased traction in slick conditions. YakTrax is a common brand available at many stores and online. I keep a pair in my car and use them whenever it looks icy or slippery outside.
Q. Are there more urgent care orthopedic injuries these days?
A. We have seen a lot of injuries during the COVID pandemic because people aren’t traveling and aren’t gathering inside like they normally would. We’re seeing more injuries from outdoor activities like mountain biking. We’ve also had a significant increase in car wrecks during the pandemic. Decreased traffic has led to more speeding, so we’re seeing more severe injuries as well.
Q. What is your specific training and how does it fit in with an urgent care facility?
A. As a fellowship trained fracture surgeon, I have specific expertise in caring for and fixing severe fractures, fractures involving joint surfaces, multiple injured patients, fractures that don’t heal well or are infected, and pelvic fractures. Many orthopedic surgeons care for fractures. However, just as you’d want an expert knee replacement surgeon for your knee replacement, an expert in fracture care helps improve outcomes for a broken bone. Fractures sometimes don’t heal, or heal in a crooked position. This often leads to chronic pain, deformity, and loss of function of the extremity. Surgery to stimulate healing or to correct poor alignment can improve pain and function. These are complicated surgeries and are best done by an expert in fracture care. Fractures can also become infected, which can also require multiple surgeries to eliminate.
Dr. Michael Miranda
Q. Why do you think it is important to have an orthopedic-specific urgent care facility?
A. The advantage to the patient is that our urgent care physicians have much more experience with musculoskeletal injuries than what you would encounter in a regular ER setting. OAH’s urgent care facilities also provide patients with more improved access to health care and faster diagnoses and definitive treatment.
Q. Are you seeing more patients during COVID? Are people getting injured more since they are spending more time in outdoor activities?
A. Yes, we're seeing a higher level of severity with regard to injuries and we feel that many of the smaller hospitals are referring patients on to the larger hospitals and the larger groups of surgeons as a result we are taking care of more patients with worse injuries than for example a year ago
Q. As a fellowship trained orthopedic trauma surgeon, what are the unique skills that you provide patients?
A. Fellowship-trained orthopedic trauma surgeon brings more experience, higher skill level and more familiarity with the different ways to treat fractures. They typically treat more complex problems and as a result fairly straightforward injuries for an orthopedic traumatologist may be a challenge to a non-fellowship trained fracture surgeon .
Q. Why is it important that someone with a fracture see a doctor that has specialized expertise in fractures and bone trauma?
A. While all orthopedic surgeons are trained to treat fractures a physician with special expertise in fracture and bone trauma can understand the nuances and subtleties of complex fractures and this can make a distinct difference in the outcome of the care .
Q. What are complications that can arise when fractures are not properly healed?
A. About 5 to 10 percent of fractures in North America end up with delayed healing or do not heal at all. This can create significant loss of function for the patient, as well as other health changes, and a loss of income from time lost at work.
Walk-in urgent care is available at 345 Western Blvd on weekdays from 4:30-8p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. To learn more visit oahct.com.