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Multidisciplinary Spine Center is New Addition to Naval Medical Center


Spinal care patients in San Diego can breathe a small sigh of relief as the Naval Medical Center San Diego opens the doors to a new Multidisciplinary Spine Center (MDSC) on April 12.

The MDSC “marks a new era in spinal care,” Director of the MDSC, Lt. Cmdr. Eric Harris said. The new branch will provide many convenience benefits to spinal care patients, including the ability to attain comprehensive diagnosis and treatment in a single visit. The collaboration of the Orthopedics, Interventional Radiology, Anesthesia Pain Management, Physical Therapy and Primary Care Sports Medicine departments allows patients at the Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) to meet and discuss options with orthopedic spine surgeons and physical therapists as well as receive diagnostic and therapeutic treatments in a single day.

Harris explains that the close proximity of the patients with their caregivers allows for better communication about treatment and preventative plans. “We have been able to more effectively manage our patients with a wide variety of spinal ailments,” he said. “We have all the tools in place here to make the logistics of patient care seamless.”

Physical Therapist and member of the MDSC crew Kirsten M. Wiley agrees with Harris, stating that “the multidisciplinary approach allows patients to begin care immediately from all angles.”

Patients appreciate the convenience of seeing their surgeons and physical therapists in the same day and note the professional and personable manner of the staff. “The entire spinal surgery team, including the corpsman and nurses are top shelf. They really take care of you like mom and dad would,” said Cmdr. Lawrence F. Guest, an NMCSD patient.

The severity of the injuries admitted to MDSC ranges from low back pain to lumbar spine fractures. Cervical and thoracic fractures, scoliosis, complete spinal deformities and other degenerative conditions can also be seen throughout the MDSC.

With its current staff, the MDSC can perform close to 200 surgeries per year while accommodating about 5,000 outpatients. The MDSC presently employs a staff surgeon and a nurse, a resident, a physical therapist and 1-2 corpsmen. With two spine surgeons being added to the roster and growing collaboration with the SMART clinic's sports medicine physicians, NMCSD could potentially double its surgery rate and accommodation abilities in the coming years.

MDSC is open every Friday, and second and fourth Thursdays of the month from 8 AM to 2 PM. It is located in Building 3 of the Physical Therapy Department.

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