By Alexander Germanis
Any trip to a so-called big box store or dealing with some faceless online company quickly proves one thing: the caring touch of customer service is non-existent in most places. Even when a beloved mom and pop restaurant begins to expand into franchises, the quality often suffers and the home-like feel is lost entirely. Unfortunately, medicine has also followed suit on a grand scale, so much so that it is referred to as the medical industry.
But our desire to be treated like a human being has not changed. We want to be remembered, recognized and treated with dignity. There are, fortunately, some places within the medical industry that not only agree with that sentiment, they make sure it remains a part of how they operate—before surgery, during and after.
Central Illinois Orthopedic Surgery (CIOS) has been a part of the Bloomington/Normal medical landscape for over three decades, focusing on joint reconstructions, outpatient shoulder and knee arthroscopy, sports medicine, trauma, and fracture treatment.
Since the days it began under Dr. Lawrence Nord, CIOS has continued to grow. But expansion is not the endgame for them; it is merely a means to an end. The end focus has always been and will continue to be their patients.
Expansion of size is often followed by a concern that quality will suffer as a result. According to CIOS CEO, Dr. Aaron Rossi, size expansion can be a positive thing, so long as there is a proper purpose for that growth. “The goal of our expansion was to create a spot where you can get multiple lines of service in the same location without having to go to the admitting department of a hospital or to a nine-story building with 55 different offices where you’re confused as to where you need to go,” he explains. “This expansion is to improve the benefits to our current patients and add on to the services we already provide—just making it all a little bit more convenient.” This also allows for a continued fee for service private practice model to thrive with sharing expenses between service lines.
Part of that expansion of their multiline services is the addition of a well-known foot and ankle surgeon, Dr. Gerald Paul, with McLean County Foot & Ankle. He has taken over the newly renovated space at the CIOS location at 1505 Eastland Drive Suite 250.
“We also added an additional physical therapy location to our practice here,” says orthopedic surgeon, Brett Keller, D.O. “Now we’re able to provide 80 individual patients with outpatient physical therapy in a given day.”
Not that numbers are the goal. Dr. Rossi states that limiting their daily slot number with one-hour appointment slots helps to maintain that personal connection to each patient and allows patients and therapists ample time and space for treatment.
Other aspects of the multiline practice are the ear, nose and throat doctors and the hearing and balance specialists. CIOS Director of Marketing, Jim Woodward, explains the advantage of having those medical experts included in the healing process: “If you’re going through therapy at whatever age, there are a lot of things that can affect your rehabilitation. Sometimes the balance issues you have might affect your success rate in healing, specifically with hip and knees. You have to maintain a good balance to do therapy, so having a multiline practice that can cover any aspect is really important. There aren’t many facilities that have the kind of diversity in terms of treatment like we have.”
“Part of the expansion perspective is to always stay ahead of the curve,” Jim says, “always looking at the best practices and what’s best for the patient. We put more of an investment in technology and training to always stay on top. That is of more value than the size of the company. Expansion is not always about size, it’s about what you do internally.”
“For instance, we have digital x-ray in the office,” Dr. Rossi continues. “The time it takes to shoot and develop an x-ray is important. The digital x-ray system means we can shoot a picture and develop it in less than three seconds.” And with computers in each room, a patient can view their own x-ray just moments after having one taken. This does not just mean the doctors will be able to help more patients, it means patients will not have to spend more time waiting.
“We’re constantly striving to provide intimate patient care without making it an intimidating environment for the patient or the staff,” Dr. Rossi says. “We want to grow, but in a very cost conscious way.”
Orthopedic surgery has always had a direct connection to sports medicine and at CIOS that is no different. Central Illinois is a sports-loving region and the staff at CIOS is particularly proud of their professional connection to athletes at all levels of performance—from amateur athletes to school teams to professionals.
Even those connections are expanding. CIOS is now the orthopedic provider for the Bloomington Knockers football team, University High School, LeRoy and Clinton High Schools, the Cornerstone Christian Academy, Eureka College, Heartland Community College, the John Gaspar Soccer Academy (JGSA), Bloomington Edge and the PSV Blues.
“Our passion is sports medicine,” Dr. Keller states. He and Dr. Rossi both played sports through all their years of college, so maintaining that connection, as well as their connection to their home of Central Illinois, is very important.
That connection is maintained by providing athletic training coverage for athletic events and onsite orthopedic care, specifically for football games. “The patients are seen by us, taken care of by us,” Dr. Rossi sums it up. “We walk them through the therapy process and we have a relationship with the athlete, taking them from start to finish after an injury to get them back up to their full potential on the field.”
Continuity of Care
“One of the things we pride ourselves on is our continuity of care,” Jim says. “Between our physical therapy department and our outpatient clinic, it is the same folks, the same staff. So we’re able to keep very good tabs on our patients’ progress and how they’re doing after surgery. I believe when most people walk out of this building—after meeting with one of the doctors—they walk away thinking, They’ve got my best interest at heart. That doctor-patient relationship is something you don’t build; it just comes naturally.”
One might even say the doctor-patient bond is something akin to a friendship or familial connection. A lot of that has to do with seeing and being able to recognize the same faces—whether it’s the patients recognizing the staff or the staff recognizing the patients. “Here you have the same people—it’s a consistent theme—you see the same doctors, you see the same therapist. So you don’t lose that personal touch with the doctors.”
That love of being recognized—of being treated with dignity—manifests itself in a humorous way as well. ”It’s crazy,” Dr. Rossi laughs, “I have people that request to continue to go to therapy because they enjoyed it so much. It was part of their routine.”
Central Illinois Orthopedic Surgery is located at 1505 Eastland Drive, Suite 220, in Bloomington. Contact them for more information at 309-662-2278 or www.ciosortho.com.
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