In his 30-year career, Dr. William Emper has pretty much done it all. A Rothman Institute sports medicine surgeon, Emper has operated on scores of patients, including hundreds of local high school and college athletes and future NFL players. But on June 14, Emper did something new. He was the first physician to operate in the Orthopaedic Surgery Center at Bryn Mawr Hospital.
Located on Bryn Mawr Avenue across from the main hospital, the ambulatory surgical center occupies the fourth floor of the new $15 million building. With nine operating rooms and 14 pre- and post-operative areas, the surgical center sparkles with new technology and patient amenities. To Emper, space is the big upgrade. “Not only do surgeons have more room for bigger surgeries, like joint replacements, but a larger area is better for teaching medical students,” he explains. “And I can’t say enough about how great the lighting is.”
The main hospital’s operating rooms are still near and dear to Emper’s heart, though. He is Bryn Mawr Hospital’s campus division chief of orthopaedic surgery and has operated there for most of his career. “Excellent facilities, excellent staff and excellent standard of care,” he says. “This surgery center is simply a different model and it’s the future of healthcare.”
It may seem like a financial non sequitur to save money by spending $15 million on a facility. But Andrea Gilbert, president of Bryn Mawr Hospital, explains that the surgical center increases the number of surgeries that can take place every day. Plus, health insurance companies have restructured their reimbursements to encourage cost savings among medical providers. “There is nothing like this in the market yet,” Gilbert says. “We built it from scratch to specialize in orthopaedic surgery. That way, we can devote more attention to the needs of that patient population. When your whole team is focused on that and works exclusively with that group of surgeons, you get very efficient and very good.”
As Emper explains, high-risk patients and complicated procedures still require full hospital settings. But many knee, shoulder, foot, ankle and hand surgeries will be done at the new center. “In the not-too-distant future, we will be moving towards doing total joint replacements here,” he says.
While the new surgical center is impressive, it can’t yet compare to Bryn Mawr Hospital’s centuries-long standard of excellence. Will patients be allowed to choose where they want their surgery to take place? “Patients follow their doctors’ recommendations about which facility is best for their medical situation,” Emper explains. “These days, most patients prefer ambulatory surgical centers for a variety of reasons, including that it typically costs less.”
Rothman isn’t the only practice utilizing Bryn Mawr’s surgical center. It will be available to physicians from other Main Line Health-affiliated orthopaedic practices. While Emper’s surgery was the first to take place, others will wait until health insurance companies bestow accreditation on the facility. It should be fully operational in six weeks, Emper says.