Orthopaedics: The Best Centers in Cincinnati
TriHealth Orthopedic and Spine Institute
Putting the Patient First
Orthopaedics differs from many of the other branches of medicine in two important and interrelated respects. First, because the specialty is primarily concerned with bones, ligaments, tendons and joints, it focuses more on the mechanics of body movement. Second, after having repaired a bone, ligament, tendon or joint, orthopedic surgeons can immediately see the effects of their work so there is immediate satisfaction that does not necessarily prevail in other specialties.
“A lot of times we can see the impact directly, especially if the treatment is surgical,” says Joseph Thomas, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at TriHealth Orthopedic and Spine Institute. “Obviously you have the before and the after apparent on an x-ray, and so you can clearly tell that you have done the best you can to improve someone’s life.”
Thomas graduated from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Afterward, he did his orthopedic residency in Columbus at Mount Carmel Medical Center. Three years of active duty in the United States Air Force later, he returned to Cincinnati and has been here ever since.
Most med students learn about Orthopaedics in school. They gain experience in their courses and then decide through long deliberation that Orthopaedics is the specialty for them. Not Thomas. He was familiar with the role of an orthopedic surgeon by the time he started ninth grade.
“My experience with orthopedic surgery started very young,” he says. “I probably spent more time in my orthopedic surgeon’s office as a child than I did with my pediatrician.”
But Thomas has a rich affinity for Orthopaedics, one that may have started on the playground, but has since developed into a serious and successful career.
“The most rewarding thing about Orthopaedics is that when a patient comes to you and they are suffering from an injury or arthritis or a nonfunctional extremity, you get to play that role of making them better, whether that’s operatively or non-operatively to improve their extremity so that it’s functional. It really does improve that person’s life, and that makes this a very rewarding profession,” says Thomas.
Thomas joined Ohio Valley Orthopaedics in 2000. In 2007, the practice had built a new facility in Kenwood to “improve patient care and patient flow,” he says. In 2012, consolidation within the healthcare industry led Ohio Valley Orthopaedics to join TriHealth.
“We are lucky to be part of the TriHealth Orthopedic and Spine Institute,” says Thomas. “We are fortunate to have representation subspecialty-wise in multiple areas, which includes sports medicine, joint replacement, oncology, hand, spine, foot and ankle.”
TriHealth, says Thomas, has worked diligently to develop a culture of collaboration between physicians and administration, and physicians have been encouraged to take leadership roles. “I believe that this will be a stepping stone to improving patient care and improving the quality of our orthopedic service line.”
He also notes that TriHealth has been working hard to bring its specialty and subspecialty institutes together with primary care physicians to be able to make a “seamless, integrated healthcare delivery system for the purpose of improving patient outcomes, access to care and providing a way to measure it.”
Still, through all these changes, Thomas hasn’t forgotten the most enjoyable part of his job: patient care.
“That is what really draws physicians to be physicians,” he says. “It is one part that I find to be the most satisfying part of my job. Obviously there is the surgical side, which we train very hard to gain expertise in.
“But ultimately the real reward comes when you’re interacting with your patient and you know that the things you have done have improved their lives. I think that relationship between physicians and patients is special, and I hope it always remains that way."