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VOL. 6 | NO. 38 | Saturday, September 14, 2013


Campbell Clinic Holds True to Founder’s Vision

RICHARD J. ALLEY | Special to The Daily News

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For more than a century, Campbell Clinic has provided the care for the bones and muscles of Memphis. The clinic’s doctors and other staff also have shared their knowledge of orthopedics and how to best provide such care to the world at large.

Dr. Willis C. Campbell founded his clinic in 1909 in what would become the heart of the city’s medical district. Much of that district now is populated by the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, where Campbell helped to organize the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Campbell would go on to begin the first orthopedic residency program and co-found The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), serving as that organization’s first president. His understanding of orthopedics ran deep and, in his quest to share his knowledge, he wrote the first textbook on the subject, “Campbell’s Operative Orthopaedics.”

Campbell Clinic CEO George Hernandez, left, and chief of staff Dr. Frederick
M. Azar are helping guide the longtime orthopedic clinic into its next century.

(Memphis News/Andrew J. Breig)

It’s but one tradition Campbell Clinic has maintained into the 21st century.

Since 1909, Campbell Clinic has grown to four locations, 50 doctors, more than 450 employees, with 40 residents and five fellows. Nearly 150,000 patients per year visit the clinic for a range of subspecialties including pediatric orthopedics, trauma, spine, total joint replacement and orthopedic oncology, among others.

“I think it actually goes back to the vision or the culture that Dr. Campbell first developed for the clinic and we have never wavered from that, nor do I ever see us wavering from that,” CEO George Hernandez said of the clinic’s growth and place within the medical landscape. “A lot of it really is, when a resident joins or is in a training program, at Campbell Clinic, he or she sees that the focus on education, the focus on research, the focus on training the next generation of orthopedic surgeons, even the focus on training the world in orthopedic surgery by virtue of our publication and our book, ‘Campbell’s Operative Orthopaedics,’ that is part and parcel to what we are.”

Through services such as physical therapy, onsite X-ray and MRI imaging and surgery, Campbell is seeing to the health needs of the baby boomers as the effects of age and wear takes its toll on joints and bones.

People are living longer and are increasingly more active, and they see the benefit of a more active lifestyle. As a result, Hernandez said, “the number of knee and hip replacements in particular are slated to, I think, quadruple or more in the next decade or so.”

Campbell Clinic has served as consultant to local orthopedic implant manufacturers such as Smith & Nephew and Wright Medical, contributing to the research and development of new designs, technology and sizes of such products. As far as nonsurgical options and opportunities to connect with new patients, the clinic encourages preventative health and being proactive before beginning a workout regimen.

“When they realize they’re going to start a workout program, we do have people that come in and we advise them on what they should and should not be doing,” said chief of staff Dr. Frederick Azar. “We don’t go through like a personal trainer, but we can make the recommendations on what activities might be safe for them to do, or some they might want to stay away from because they may have some pre-existing arthritis in a certain part of their body or problem that we think is going to be exacerbated by a certain workout regimen.”

“It goes back to the vision ... that Dr. Campbell first developed for the clinic.”

–CEO George Hernandez

In addition to adult reconstruction such as hip and knee replacements, spinal work and trauma, the field of sports medicine has seen tremendous growth over the years and is rapidly becoming the area of choice for orthopedic residents.

“You can do a sports medicine fellowship and go out and take care of the local high school team in the area; that’s attractive to a lot of people,” Azar said. “You’re not just taking care of the athletes, you’re taking care of the families of the athletes and the coaches, so it’s a good way to get involved in the community.”

Campbell Clinic is the official sports medicine provider for the Memphis Grizzlies, Memphis Redbirds, University of Memphis, Rhodes College, Ballet Memphis and 14 area high schools.

Part of Willis Campbell’s vision was not just in the treating of patients but the training of doctors, and the clinic maintains a relatively large program in the highly competitive field.

“We’re very fortunate that we get the best of the best medical students because they’re looking for orthopedics, and they look here because we have a program that’s been around for a very long time,” Azar said.

Hernandez foresees the clinic continuing the same trend of slow and steady growth it has maintained over the past two decades, even as he looks to new areas of expertise and possible expansion in the Mid-South as the current facilities have reached capacity.

“I think we have found a really unique and effective balance between a private practice, a large portion of which is needed to support both the infrastructure and the broader mission, but balance that with some of the other activities that are less financially attractive but equally as important,” Hernandez said. “That has just allowed us to continue to focus on those core competencies, but also succeed in a competitive environment. … We’ve been very fortunate that our industry has remained strong and that the demand for Campbell Clinic remains stronger.”

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