COLUMBIA — The wood floors, hair salon and 20 private rooms on the redesigned fifth floor of Boone Hospital Center create an atmosphere more like a hotel than a place where patients come for orthopedic care. A plastic model of a spine near the nurses’ station gives away the location: the hospital’s new Spine Center.
Once in the center, it’s hard to miss the bariatric room, which includes a lift and large bed with a capacity of 800 pounds. Across the hall, a satellite gym lets patients recovering from surgery receive physical therapy without walking to physical therapy areas on the second and third floors. There’s even a relaxation room, surrounded by windows and a kitchen, where patients and their families can escape from the daily hospital grind.
The center opened March 3, and 10 patients checked in during the first three days, said Steve Adams, the hospital’s media relations specialist. He said that number was expected to increase in the following two weeks.
An aging population, technological advances and consumer-savvy patients are expected to contribute to an expanding patient base for the Spine Center.
“Back pain is the second most common health problem and the leading reason for lost work hours,” said Jeff Parker, orthopedic spine surgeon with Columbia Orthopaedic Group and chief of the surgery department at Boone Hospital Center.
The Center treats spinal and muscular-skeletal conditions ranging from ruptured disks and bone spurs to neurological disorders associated with the spine, said Parker.
Combining treatments for back problems with other orthopedic and muscular-skeletal problems, the Spine Center is keeping up with trends in health practices by making use of resources from both Boone Hospital Center and the Columbia Orthopaedic Group.
The center features state-of-the-art procedures to treat and monitor patients as well as modern amenities, such as private and specialized rooms for postoperative care. There is a full-time staff of nurses, physical therapists and physicians.
Some of the state-of-the-art technology at the center includes the 3.0 MRI machines and minimally invasive surgeries and procedures to treat patients, which “allows them to get up and move faster,” said Parker.
According to HealthLeaders Media, a multimedia company that provides business information to health care professionals and executives, 42 percent of the U.S. population will be over 45 within the next 10 years. Baby boomers will increase the demand for orthopedic surgeries as they age, pushing the overall percentage of surgeries higher.
HealthLeaders Media also notes how the combination of improving medical technology and a population of baby boomers seeking health care services has allowed hospitals to expand their facilities into specialized centers.
Because of the aging population, there is also a projected increase in muscular-skeletal disorders and the health care that will be needed to treat those disorders.
Providing specialized facilities is one way hospitals are adjusting to future demands for medical services. Technologies are increasing in quality and becoming more specialized in detecting a problem. Once diagnosed, screening technologies and the devices used to treat the problem continue to improve for muscular-skeletal disorders, according to HealthLeadersMedia.com.
While the Spine Center is taking the first steps in establishing itself, it’s not the first specialty treatment for spines in Columbia.
The Missouri Spine Center, affiliated with University Hospital, specializes in spinal deformities and back and neck problems. Initially developed by MU orthopedic faculty members, the Missouri Spine Center opened in November 2006 to patients seeking a wide range of orthopedic care.
Unlike Boone Hospital Center’s Spine Center, the Missouri Spine Center operates as a clinic with both inpatient and outpatient facilities.
Outpatient treatments include diagnostic injections into the spine that can help relieve pain, said surgeon Ted Choma, assistant professor of orthopedic surgery and director of the Missouri Spine Center.
Patients in need of intensive spinal surgery are operated on at University Hospital and referred to the Missouri Spine Center.
“It’s the only hospital in mid-Missouri equipped with specialists and equipment to handle the most severely injured patients,” Choma said.
It’s difficult to put an exact number on how many spine centers there are in Missouri because there is no licensing requirement for specialized care units to open in Missouri, said Dave Dillon, the Missouri Hospital Association’s vice president of media relations. He said that such specialized centers will become more common in the future.