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Trinity has big plans for orthopaedics

Expansion is under way

September 25, 2011
By TERRENCE DWYER, Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

Orthopaedics at Trinity Regional Medical Center is shifting into high gear.

Five years ago, four orthopaedic surgeons resigned from the medical staff at TRMC to establish a practice independent of the local hospital. That precipitated what Sue Thompson, president and chief executive officer of Trinity Health Systems, said turned out to be a slower than hoped for process to rebuild Trinity's orthopaedic team. She said, however, the hard work of recruiting the needed specialists in a highly competitive marketplace has produced positive results. Consequently, the hospital is moving ahead fast with plans to become a regional "center of excellence" for patients in need of orthopaedic care.

This month, the physician manpower in this specialty doubled at Trinity. Dr. Jeffrey Luna, an orthopaedic surgeon who in addition to general orthopaedics specializes in tumor surgery, spine surgery and joint reconstruction, has joined Dr. Richard Bergstrom at Trinity Orthopaedics.

Article Photos

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Dr. Jeffrey Luna, left, examines Keegan Myers, 13, Thursday afternoon after Myers fractured his finger playing basketball. Luna is one of two orthopaedic surgeons to join Trinity Orthopaedics this month.

According to Thompson, there is a strong likelihood that by mid-2012 the physician complement in this key specialty will have doubled once again. Trinity is close to having commitments from two additional physician specialists in this field.

Officials at Trinity said the ramifications for Trinity are huge if those recruitment efforts succeed.

Jim Beck, a senior staff member at TRMC, said the medical center is poised to bring to the community orthopaedic capabilities that will be more extensive than it has been able to offer in recent years.

Fact Box

Meet Dr. Luna

Dr. Jeffrey Luna is originally from the Philippines. He grew up and did his initial training there, receiving his medical degree from Manila's University of Santo Tomas College of Medicine and Surgery in 1997.

He is from a family of doctors.

"My dad is a plastic surgeon. My mom is an obstetrician and gynecologist. My sister and brother are both obstetricians," Luna said. And this family tradition in medicine also includes his grandparents' generation.

Luna has completed fellowships in the United States at Boston University's Boston Medical Center, the University of Minnesota Medical Center, the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, Mass.

He said his interest in orthopaedic cancer surgery is especially great and dates back to his residency.

"Once I got into the residency training program and I saw how they did tumor surgery," Luna said.

He said with state-of-the-art procedures it is often possible to remove a malignant tumor while saving the limb.

Luna and his wife, Jennifer, have two daughters. Jessica, 6, is a first-grade student at St. Edmond. Her younger sister, Gabriella, is 3.

Luna said he met his future wife, who is a physical therapist, during their undergraduate years.

"We were sweethearts in college," he said.

Luna said Trinity's commitment to orthopaedic excellence was only part of his reason for joining the team here. He said he and his wife see Fort Dodge as an ideal town in which to raise their family.

"Orthopaedics will grow," he said. "The growth actually attracted me. And the quiet life after living and growing up in big cities."

Luna also sees this community as a good place to pursue his non-medical interests, which he said include "sports, windsurfing, paddle boarding, playing soccer. ... I used to windsurf every weekend in the Philippines.

"We will literally have coverage of joint reconstruction, trauma, spine, pediatrics, sports medicine, oncology and hand," he said. "We'll have all those subspecialties covered."

Beck said Luna's areas of specialization complement nicely Bergstrom's focus on general orthopaedics, joint replacements and hand surgery.

Luna said a major reason he was attracted to Trinity was the hospital's determination to become a significant center for orthopaedic care. He said he is excited about helping the team in Fort Dodge achieve that goal.

"The challenge would be for Trinity to get back on track," Luna said. "I want Trinity ... to be known to be an orthopaedic specialty center some day. ... I believe it's going to happen. We just need some time."

Thompson said the arrival of Luna is a critical step toward accomplishing that goal.

"Access to quality around-the-clock orthopaedic care at Trinity Regional Medical Center is a critical need in our community," she said in announcing Luna's addition to the medical staff. "Trinity's team of surgeons and support staff very much look forward to serving the orthopaedic needs of our region and becoming the community's providers of choice. Trinity appreciates the confidence the community places in its physicians and staff and understands its responsibility to provide quality orthopaedic service to our community."

Additionally, increasing Trinity's orthopaedic capabilities is a positive financial development for the hospital.

Pat Lake, surgery manager at TRMC, said that in 2005 - before the departure of the previous orthopaedic team - there were 1,588 orthopaedic surgeries at the hospital. In 2010, with only one orthopaedic surgeon on staff, the number was 330.

Contact Terrence Dwyer at (515) 573-2141 or



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