Orthopedic urgent care centers open for care of broken bones, sprains and other injuries

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LEAWOOD, Kan. -- Urgent care centers have popped up all over the metro in recent years. Now some are even specialized. An orthopedic urgent care is already in operation in Independence, and one has just opened in Leawood.

Mike Thiessen tweaked an already bad knee while hunting the day before Thanksgiving.

"When I couldn't get out of the chair -- my two boys had to lift me out of the chair -- people suggested maybe I should do something about my knee," Thiessen said.

He didn't get in to see his orthopedic surgeon until Monday.

"But I understand there's this new service where I could have called urgent care on Friday and just gone in to see them" Thiessen said.

The Kansas City Orthopaedic Institute has opened Ortho Urgent Care at its Leawood offices. It's open weekday evenings and weekends for patients 12 and older. Dr. Charles Rhoades says it's filling a need for immediate care provided by orthopedic physicians for torn ligaments, broken bones, sprains and other injuries.

"Patients can get direct access to an orthopedic system without incurring the high cost and delays which occur in most busy emergency rooms," said Dr. Rhoades, CEO of the institute.

Orthopedic practices around the country are opening urgent care centers as a way to potentially funnel in new patients and increase revenue from diagnostic imaging, such as MRI, and surgical procedures.

Some analysts say the centers could boost costs to the health care system by adding more tests and care by specialists. Dr. Rhoades doesn't think that will be the case at the new center.

"I think the least expensive way to treat an injury is to treat it correctly the first time. And we'll only do an MRI if it's indicated," he said.

Thiessen learned he has a torn meniscus. He'll have surgery soon.

The center in Independence is run by DFP Orthopedics and is open weekday afternoons and evenings. The manager said it's been successful seeing patients with sports and job-related injuries.