A new orthopedic center breaking ground equals groundbreaking
Talk to most doctors about their specialties and they will often tell you of a new medicine or new device or diagnostic technique. And if they do, groundbreaking is an adjective that’s likely to emerge.
Talk to Craig Mintzer, MD, MBA and he wants you to know that the groundbreaking news in the field of orthopedics in Central Florida is that ground has literally been broken for the new Orlando Health Jewett Orthopedic Institute and that when it opens in 2023, it has the potential to be transformative not only in the Orlando area but for the Southeastern United States.
“The field of orthopedics is fairly advanced,” said Dr. Mintzer. “We already have minimally invasive procedures and we have progressed to the point where a lot of procedures can be done on an outpatient basis.” This new orthopedic institute will be “transformative because it will become a center of excellence in a place that doesn’t have one.”
“If you’re a city of seven to 12 million, you expect that city to have a massive center of medical knowledge and practitioners,” said Dr. Mintzer, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery of the knee and shoulder and sports medicine. “But there is nothing like this in the Southeast. So, when we open the doors, we will be transforming the delivery of orthopedic health care, and for the average person that is much more significant than some new invention.”
The new institute will put all of the orthopedic specialties under one roof in a 370,000 square foot complex. The result will be a collaborative center in which patients have access to orthopedic specialists, imaging services, radiologists and physical therapists, who are all within steps of each other. It will not only be more convenient for patients, but the complex is designed to foster research, education and collaboration among the healthcare teams and for visiting professionals.
“We are trying to elevate the bar of orthopedic healthcare in the city in an organized manner,” said Dr. Mintzer. “Even if you are not affiliated with a certain health care institution, you benefit just by being around it. A rising tide lifts all boats.”
It would be easy to imagine that such an advanced complex will be focused on high performing athletes. After all, Dr. Mintzer and his colleagues care for many professional and amateur athletes in the Orlando area, including the Orlando Magic basketball team, the Orlando City and Orlando Pride soccer teams, teams from the University of Central Florida and Rollins College, the Orlando Ballet and more than a dozen high school teams. And, Dr. Mintzer is unabashed in saying that one of his goals for the new institute is for it to be designated a Center of Excellence by FIFA, the world soccer organizing body.
But it is actually for the average person that the institute holds the most promise.
“There aren’t that many elite athletes quite frankly,” said Dr. Mintzer. “Orthopedic practices are based on normal people. Everybody gets up in the morning, they go to work, they exercise, they do some sports as weekend recreation and they get injured. Elite athletes go through a Darwinian pyramid. You don’t get to be at that level without being different from everybody else. So even though they do get injured, they tend to have fewer injuries, or they would never make it.
“Most ordinary people try to stay active and to be the best they can. And those are the people who come to see us.”
Besides treating the average person, Dr. Mintzer hopes the new center will serve as a way to organize orthopedic surgeons to better serve high school athletes.
“High school athletes get injured frequently and most don’t have the access to the best doctors and health care,” he said. “I would like to see that change.”
Dr. Mintzer’s inspiration to go into medicine was his own family’s physician.
“I grew up in New York in the Bronx and became interested in becoming a doctor by the third or fourth grade. We went to this old General Practitioner, Sam Wagreich. GPs don’t exist anymore, but back then he was the doctor who delivered you, took out your tonsils, and saw you when you were sick. My parents deferred to him on almost every important family decision. He practiced until he was in his nineties and the amount of respect my family and others had for him made me think that I wanted to be like him.”
Dr. Wagreich might have provided the inspiration, but it was hard work and intelligence that fueled Dr. Mintzer’s success. A product of New York City’s public schools, Dr. Mintzer went to the highly selective Bronx High School of Science. When he graduated, scholarships and financial aid helped him gain entry to Princeton University. And from there he went to Harvard for medical school.
Growing up in the Bronx for a self-described “little kid who was a smart guy” wasn’t easy. But it did provide some early life lessons. “In the Bronx you learn fast that if you don’t work hard, you don’t get anywhere. You just get left behind.”
Dr. Mintzer is determined that when it comes to top tier orthopedics, Orlando will not be left behind.