FORT POLK, La. –
Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital’s Orthopedic Department has a robust staff of highly skilled specialists to support mission readiness. BJACH recently hired a new civilian and active duty orthopedic surgeon to round out the team at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, Louisiana.
Cynthia Nelson, practice manager for BJACH surgical services department, said the addition of the new orthopedic surgeons is a big win for the hospital.
“Now we can take care of our patients right away, we don’t have to go through referral management to send our Soldiers to a civilian provider,” she said. “Having this capability in house supports Soldier readiness not only at JRTC and Fort Polk, but in our operating room. The increased number and variety of surgical procedures offered at BJACH gives our operating room staff the opportunity to learn new and master current skills, which is important to them and our patients.”
Nelson said having a full staff in the orthopedic department will allow specialists the time to focus on providing the highest quality of care to our beneficiaries.
Dr. Edward Southern, orthopedic surgeon, arrived at BJACH in August. Before his arrival he completed a pediatric and spine fellowship.
“Arthritis, traumatic fractures, rotator cuff tears, ACL tears, sports and training related injuries are some of the most common issues we treat here,” he said. “I see a lot of patients with back pain, because I am a trained spine surgeon as well.”
Southern said the local civilian orthopedic doctors already have extremely heavy patient loads and having a full staff at BJACH alleviates long wait times for Soldiers and their families.
“We have a good range of practitioners in our department,” he said. “We have a foot and ankle specialist, our podiatrist, Dr. Destefano. Lt. Col. White, is a sports medicine expert, who has alleviated our shoulder and knee backlog. I treat pediatric and spine patients so they no longer need to be referred out. And our PA, Lim Ferguson is a former Special Forces provider and has been managing this department on his own for a while now.”
Southern said other than severe trauma, which require an intensive care unit, the orthopedic team at BJACH can handle just about any injury that is presented to them.
Lt. Col. Jeffery White, orthopedic surgeon, arrived at BJACH in July and specializes in sports related injuries; shoulder and knee scopes, hands, minor trauma, ankle and wrist fractures.
“Ankle fractures, shoulder separations and sprains are common injuries associated with airborne operations and normal field work,” he said. “Identifying those injuries, doing surgery if necessary, getting our Soldiers into rehab and back to their units quickly is important to Army readiness. Having a full orthopedic staff here and a great physical therapy department makes it much easier than if we had to refer people out to larger military treatment facilities or civilian hospitals.”
White said coming to BJACH was a great opportunity for him to continue working in the operating room and practicing orthopedic care on a daily basis.
“Here I thought I’d be alone, I was thrilled when Dr. Southern showed up,” he said. “He is the perfect piece to the puzzle. He’s a spine surgeon and is comfortable doing pediatrics, he’s willing to pull on call and it’s really nice to have another surgeon to learn from and rely on.”
White said coming to BJACH has been beneficial because he has the opportunity to continually be in the operating room and treat patients. He also said having Southern as a counterpart compliments his training and expertise.
Southern said he came to Fort Polk because he wanted to work for the Defense Health Agency.
“I have previous experience working for the Air Force and I wanted to get back to the defense health system,” he said. “I thought working with a younger active duty population [versus working for Veterans Affairs] would be a great way to learn more about sports medicine. I have a great teacher here with Lt. Col. White and I’m getting up to speed on the sports aspect of this department which is quite a heavy workload. It’s very different from what I was doing before.”
Limuel Ferguson, has been an orthopedic physician assistant at BJACH since 2002 as a Soldier and now as a civilian.
A PA since 1994, Ferguson retired from active duty at BACH before taking a civilian position here.
“I enjoy orthopedics because of the unusual stories associated with injuries, especially on weekends. I see severed appendages from table saws, fights resulting in hand fractures, sky diving injuries, I just like helping Soldiers,” Ferguson said. “We’ve got a great team now. We’ve got guys skilled in sports surgery, guys skilled in trauma surgery and guys skilled in the Army.”
Ferguson said the growing staff allows BJACH to do more things locally now instead of sending people to outside facilities for care.
Dr. John Destefano, a podiatrist at BJACH, has been a member of the orthopedic team for three years.
Destefano said he primarily sees patients for planter fasciitis, bunions, ingrown toe nails and hammer toe.
“Podiatry is part of the orthopedic team,” he said, “We just work with smaller bones. A Soldiers’ foot health is very important to their ability to do their jobs.”
The BJACH orthopedic team is ready to serve all beneficiaries with muscular skeletal needs. The addition of two surgeons to the team will enable the hospital to provide the best to our Soldiers and Families to improve quality of life and support mission readiness.