New Orthopedic Trauma Facility Brings Research, Training and Patient Care Under One Roof

By Robin Hindery

San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH), UCSF and San Francisco city officials celebrate the opening of the Orthopaedic Trauma Institute on Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009: (left to right) Bevan Dufty, San Francisco supervisor, District 8; Theodore (Ted) Miclau, MD, professor and vice chair, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery; Sam Hawgood, MB, BS, physician in chief, UCSF Children’s Hospital; Gene Marie O’Connell, chief executive officer, SFGH; Gene Washington, MD, UCSF executive vice chancellor and provost; Chara Schreyer, a philanthropist who funded the first endowed chair in orthopedics at UCSF; and Mitchell Katz, MD, director, SF Department of Public Health.

The UCSF/San Francisco General Hospital Orthopaedic Trauma Institute (OTI) recently celebrated the official opening of its new home: a first-of-its kind, fully integrated research, training and patient care facility. The 14,000-square-foot, newly renovated space includes state-of-the-art labs, the latest medical equipment, and enough room for 70 physicians, rehabilitation specialists, scientists, clinical researchers and support staff. “For the past year or so, we’ve had this sort of virtual OTI, spread out across the hospital, but now we’re all together in one building,” said John Houston, division director of UCSF’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. “I think that’s what really sets us apart – we have it all covered, A to Z.” The need for such a comprehensive facility is illustrated by the facts. Trauma is the leading cause of death in the United States for individuals under the age of 45, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. What’s more, studies have shown that expert trauma care such as that provided by the UCSF OTI can significantly reduce the number of preventable deaths following major traumatic injury. Located at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH), the city’s only level I trauma center, the OTI performs about 2,000 operative procedures per year and specializes in orthopedic trauma injuries such as those sustained in motor vehicle accidents, falls and assaults. Care continues far beyond the operating room to include rehabilitation, orthotics and prosthetics. But patient care is only one side of what goes on at the OTI. There is also a surgical training facility that draws in physicians from around the world to hone their skills and test the newest techniques. In addition, researchers at the OTI’s molecular and cellular biology laboratory and clinical research center work to understand the processes that occur during traumatic injury and improve upon existing treatment methods. Finally, an on-site biomechanical testing facility studies the mechanics behind injury and treatment and seeks to determine, for example, how best to repair a fracture or how surgical fusion affects the movement of the spine.

Amir Matityahu, MD, director, pelvis and acetabular trauma reconstruction, San Francisco General Hospital, and assistant clinical professor, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, demonstrates an orthopedic surgery procedure at the Orthopaedic Trauma Institute reception on Thursday, Feb. 19.

“We really have the four UCSF mission areas in place: research, education, clinical work and outreach,” said Ted Miclau, MD, UCSF’s Orthopaedic Surgery vice chair and director of orthopedic trauma, and chief of orthopedic surgery at SFGH. “And now we have a facility that will accommodate these programs and allow them to interact in a way that’s best for encouraging multidisciplinary work.” The new OTI was financed entirely by private funds, extramural grants and in-kind donations, including generous support from past patients, Miclau said. One such individual, Chara Schreyer, has created UCSF’s first endowed chair in orthopedics as a thank-you for the care she received at the OTI. In October 2007, Schreyer was rushed to SFGH after a nearly fatal fall that severely injured her hip, foot and ankle. Today, she is fully recovered and “eternally grateful,” Schreyer said. “The OTI is a real gift to San Francisco,” she said at the Feb. 19 ribbon-cutting ceremony, which was attended by city government and health officials as well as representatives from UCSF and SFGH. Miclau said he believes the OTI’s service to its patients will only improve with the opening of the new facility. “The orthopedics department [at UCSF] was one of the pioneers back in the 1970s, and over the years, we’ve added different components to what we do,” he said. “We haven’t ever been as good as we are now.” SFGH and UCSF have enjoyed a historic partnership, which was first made official in an 1873 affiliation agreement. Today, more than 2,000 UCSF faculty and staff work alongside SFGH employees to provide a full range of patient care services and conduct research at SFGH. Photos by Susan Merrell

Related Links:

UCSF/SFGH Orthopaedic Trauma Institute

Insights into Better Healing: Orthopedic Trauma Surgeon Ted Miclau
UCSF School of Medicine Website

SF General and UCSF: Partners in Public Health
UCSF Today, Feb. 10, 2006