MURREY: When patients come to us, they’re suffering, and our role as physicians is to alleviate that suffering. The real goal is to get people back to the level of function that they were in before they got injured.
STRUCKMEYER: OrthoCarolina is one of the largest independent orthopedic practices, and they are changing healthcare in the country.
MURREY: Healthcare in the U.S. is very fragmented. That means that people have to go to a lot of different places to get their care. We wanted to bring that entire patient experience into one place. Being able to do surgery in the same place where we see patients in the office, where we do therapy and imaging, really creates that lower anxiety and higher quality experience for our patients.
MILLER: What OrthoCarolina wanted to do offered a great alternative to their patients. Easy access to the surgery center, less wait time, and usually a better financial as well as clinical outcome.
STRUCKMEYER: OrthoCarolina’s vision of the surgery center was a piece in the puzzle for them to transform the way healthcare is provided in the U.S. We knew, based on our collaboration with them over the last decade, that this management team would have the drive and the ability to pull this off.
MILLER: OrthoCarolina was proposing to construct a standalone surgery center. They had never done one on their own before, and they were looking to our expertise to help finance it.
MURREY: Wells really does understand the healthcare industry. They have healthcare specialists who helped us work through the process of funding our equipment, and understanding the timetable for doing that. It really is a complex process, and they were with us every step along the way.
STRUCKMEYER: I am just so thrilled that Wells Fargo was able to play a part in providing the financing and to enable OrthoCarolina to build something that was important to them.
MILLER: When we look at OrthoCarolina and their progressive model for healthcare, it’s where healthcare is going, and we at Wells Fargo definitely want to be part of that future.
New vision for healthcare improves patient experience
Building an independent surgery center is no easy feat. Before breaking ground, it takes a great deal of patience, persistence, and — in North Carolina — paperwork.
That's because a certificate of need law has regulated healthcare facilities and services in the state since 1978. As a result, most surgeries, including orthopedic operations, are conducted in hospitals or other outpatient clinics on a fee-for-service basis, which can quickly add up for patients.
The team at OrthoCarolina, one of the largest orthopedic practices in the country, had a different vision. What if physicians could perform surgeries at their own center, rather than sending patients out? That, Chief Executive Officer Dr. Dan Murrey proposed, could both reduce the cost of care for their patients and improve service delivery.
In 2010, the state agreed to let OrthoCarolina test the idea, approving a five-year demonstration project and awarding the practice a nonhospital certificate of need. All OrthoCarolina needed was the financing — and for that it turned to Wells Fargo.
Working with a financial provider that has expertise in healthcare, who understands the company's vision and business, and was eager to help build the facility was crucial to getting the project off the ground.
From the walls in, Wells Fargo helped to finance each element required in an ambulatory surgery center, from scrub sinks to highly specialized surgical equipment.
In May 2014, the Mallard Creek Surgery Center opened its doors, offering foot, ankle, knee, elbow, shoulder, and spine surgery, as well as cartilage restoration, sports medicine, and pain management. Importantly, Murrey says, the center "really creates that lower [patient] anxiety and higher quality experience for our patients."