Program puts services for aches and pains under one roof

URBANA – When you have aches and pains so severe you can barely move, the folks at Provena Covenant Medical Center think the last thing you need is to be sent here, there and everywhere for your medical care.

The hospital is taking steps to make sure that doesn't happen any more, through a new program called the Provena Covenant Human Motion Institute.

The program, which will occupy spaces in two existing buildings on Covenant's Urbana campus, coordinates what has been a fragmented delivery of care among multiple providers and locations for patients in need of orthopedic and rehabilitation services, according to John "Skip" Pickering, head of business development for Provena's Central Illinois region.

Pickering said Covenant has spent the past year making plans, building a variety of care teams and solidifying agreements with doctors to launch this program in partnership with Pennsylvania-based Human Motion Institute, a company that builds musculoskeletal care programs at hospitals across the country.

Musculoskeletal ailments are those of the bones, muscles and joints, and include such conditions as osteoporosis and arthritis.

The hospital is remodeling space on the third floor of its medical office building for its outpatient orthopedics services, and next year 12 unused rooms on the main hospital building's fourth floor will be remodeled to become a dedicated area for patients coming in for total joint replacements, Pickering said.

Doctors participating in the program who aren't employed by Covenant, including two at Christie Clinic and some independent physicians, will also continue to maintain their current practices, Pickering said.

But the expectation is that better planning and cooperation will make things easier for patients, and improve their overall care, he said. Patients suffering from pain and motion-limiting conditions – especially the elderly without family nearby – are among those who suffer the most when that continuity is missing, said Lori Fitton, a nurse practitioner in the hospital's orthopedic department.

What's more, she and Pickering say, the demand for more services and greater convenience in musculoskeletal care keeps growing as doctors can do increasingly more for those patients and more baby boomers start to experience age-related aches and pains.

Baby boomers want to stay active longer, Pickering said.

"If their knee goes out or their hip goes out, they want it fixed," he said.

Fitton said patient education will be a big component of the new program. There are many things doctors can do for patients these days that can delay or avoid surgery, she said.

"What we want is patient-focused, community care," she said.

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