Orthopedic practice offers unique care under one roof in Vero Beach
BY KERRY FIRTH
In a world where corporate health care absorption of private practice physicians is common, the doctors at Vero Orthopaedics took an entirely different approach to expansion and banded together to build their own state of the art facility that rivals any hospital.
Vero Orthopaedics opened in 1976 with three surgeons and grew the practice to include 10 specialty trained doctors and a large support staff. It quickly became known for expert care and treatment of bone, joint, muscle, and neurological injuries and conditions. Realizing that the current home couldn’t keep up with the demand, a plan was put in motion to own and operate a unique care facility where all facets of orthopedic care could be administered from the initial exam, to on-site surgery and follow-up physical therapy.
The visionary behind the ambitious plan is Jennifer Davidson, CEO of Vero Orthopaedics.
“I’ve been with the company for 24 years, starting in the nursing area, navigating through the administration department to director of operations and took over as CEO about eight years ago,” Davidson explained.
“We’ve built and expanded our practice by hiring fellowship trained subspecialty surgeons to offer the best possible care and access to same day appointments if you call before 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. It’s part of our ‘hurt today — treated today’ motto that recognizes the need for immediate attention for an injury.”
Vero Orthopaedics purchased a 9-acre parcel in 2019 and partnered with developer Optimal Outcomes in St. Petersburg, a developer specializing in medical building projects, to build the $20-million project. They co-own the award-winning building.
“We broke ground in 2020 just as COVID was sweeping the country, but decided to forge ahead anyway,” Davidson said. “We persevered and opened Aug. 1, 2021, after overcoming a multitude of obstacles.”
The new campus spans 66,000 square feet and boasts 68 exam rooms, four procedure rooms, three radiology suites and three operating rooms. With a staff of 16 fellowship-trained physicians, three physician assistants, one nurse practitioner and nearly 100 support personnel, Vero Orthopaedics treats an average of 600 patients a day.
The waiting room is infused with natural light emanating from the wall of windows. Davidson took pride in choosing the calming color pallets of coastal blues and natural earth tones designed to create a calming, beachside ambiance.
“Natural light and calming colors put the patient at ease as soon as they walk into the room and it helps relieve the anxiety they may feel coming to see a doctor,” Davidson said.
UNIQUE PATIENT CARE
“We are passionate about customer service and we don’t want our patients to feel like they are in a factory,” she continued. “Our doctors spend as much time as they need to take good care of them. Our business has grown 30 percent since we moved into the building and we’ve instituted some unique customer care policies to help with the flow. We have a greeter who helps with the electronic check-in process mandated by Medicare and tends to our patients’ comfort by providing water and answering any questions. Sixty percent of our clientele is over the age of 65 and on Medicare so navigating some of the guidelines can be challenging, even for us in the healthcare business.
“Our advanced surgery center upstairs is a separate entity, co-owned by United Surgical Partners Incorporated Orthopaedics and a few of our physicians. The 13,000-square-foot space houses three operating rooms, two of the four procedure rooms, 24 pre- and post-op bays and two overnight stay rooms which can be utilized for 23-hour stays in accordance with Medicare guidelines. We haven’t had to use them yet as most of our procedures are out-patient but they are there when we need them.”
Because most of the procedures are done in the office, Vero Orthopaedics does not have a full-time anesthesiologist on staff but it does contract one when needed. Many of the procedures are done in the office where the doctor administers conscious sedation, which puts the patient in a sleep-like state, but not fully unconscious, so the patient feels relaxed through the procedure. Should a hospital stay be necessary, all of the Vero Ortho physicians have hospital privileges at Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital and Sebastian River Hospital and one spine surgeon also sees patients at Melbourne Regional Medical Center.
CUTS INSURANCE COSTS
“From an insurance prospective, it’s a lot less expensive for the patient to have the procedure done in the office versus the hospital,” Davidson explained. “Patients sometimes don’t realize that when you go to the hospital there are extra fees associated with it. You will pay a higher deductible and a higher co-pay whereas when you have it done in the office it’s usually covered under your co-pay.”
Dr. Seth Coren, president of Vero Orthopaedics, joined the practice in 2001.
“I was in a 42-person multispecialty group before I joined Vero Orthopaedics in 2001 so I knew the potential was there,” he said. “We just needed the right people who wanted to work together.
“Our new facility provides us with a greater ability to do things as outpatients and do it in a less expensive way than going to the hospital or even a surgery center. We do have our surgery center in place, which is great to be able to take a patient upstairs and treat them on a semi-emergency basis, but most of our procedures are done in the office with different forms of conscious sedation.”
Nearly all of the doctors at the practice are robotically trained and highly skilled in minimally invasive surgeries with smaller incisions and muscle and ligament sparing techniques. In spite of all the intensive training, it does not mean that they look at surgery as the only option.
“We never want to operate on a patient if we don’t need to,” Davidson said emphatically. “We try to do what is least invasive on a patient and that might be going through the process of trying physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications and injections before deciding on surgery. We are always looking for the quickest recovery time for the patient with the best possible outcome.”
What truly differentiates Vero Orthopaedics from other health care facilities is that they are totally autonomous and pride themselves on their independence.
“We are physician owned and will never need to be acquired or bought out,” Davidson said proudly. “Communication is very important in our organization and we all work together as a team, which makes it a great place for the doctors to work. We encourage a healthy work/life balance because they’ll be better surgeons in the long run.
“We will continue to grow and develop our subspecialty focus and continue to provide high quality service to the community,” she continued. “Our priority is recruiting and retaining doctors highly trained in their subspecialties and growing our service line with new and innovative procedures and additional ambulatory services as well. Our goal is to be a one-stop shop so the patient can come in and do everything under one roof.”
With the increase in patient load, Davidson is looking toward future expansion into the 7,000 square feet of currently unused space upstairs.
Vero Orthopaedics is at 3955 Indian River Blvd., Vero Beach, with a second office at 801 Wellness Way, Suite 100, in Sebastian. Visit www.veroortho.com for more information or to schedule an appointment.
Sept. 25, 2022