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A Hard Fall, Then a Soft Landing

Summertime may be approaching, but Jim Roche is already thinking about his next ski trip.

After tearing a rotator cuff in a skiing accident, Jim Roche turned to Greenwich Hospital’s Long Ridge Medical Center – and ultimately back to the slopes.

“These people are insane,” Jim Roche said as he tuned in to watch the world’s best alpine skiers careen down the race courses at 80 miles per hour during the Olympic Winter Games. He should talk. Just nine months earlier, Roche took a nasty spill while schussing down a snow-packed ski trail in Vermont, leaving him with a torn rotator cuff that required shoulder surgery. Now he was on vacation in Lake Tahoe, California – marveling at Olympic skiers before getting right back on his own skis.

Some might call that crazy, but Roche certainly had his wits about him when it came to the shoulder injury. “The next morning, I literally couldn’t reach either of my earlobes,” he said, recalling the intense pain in both shoulders. He immediately contacted Craig Tifford, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Long Ridge Medical Center in Stamford, who reconstructed his wife’s ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) several years earlier.

Long Ridge Medical Center at 260 Long Ridge Road in Stamford offers a comprehensive array of care to surrounding communities.

A collaborative venture

Designed and furnished with patient comfort and convenience in mind, the 52,000-square-foot outpatient facility is a collaborative effort between Greenwich Hospital, Yale Medicine and its Center for Musculoskeletal Care (CMC), and primary care physicians with Northeast Medical Group (NEMG).

At Long Ridge, Greenwich Hospital provides physical and occupational therapy, diagnostic imaging, rheumatology and neurology infusion, and blood draw services. NEMG, Yale New Haven Health’s physician group, provides adult primary care services. The CMC offers a wide range of interdisciplinary services for conditions affecting the muscles, joints, bones, tendons, ligaments and nervous system. “Our purpose is to optimize the opportunity for patients to return to their highest level of musculoskeletal health,” said Mary O’Connor, MD, who is CMC director and a professor of orthopedics and rehabilitation at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven.

Roche’s case exemplifies the integrated healthcare delivery Long Ridge Medical Center brings to the surrounding community in lower Fairfield County. The Stamford resident had everything he needed at one location, including access to an experienced orthopedic surgeon, diagnostic imaging and physical therapy following surgery at Greenwich Hospital.

“Patients appreciate the convenience of having a wide range of medical experts and resources under one roof,” said Dr. Tifford, who was appointed medical director of Long Ridge Medical Center when it opened in 2016. “To be involved at the ground level in helping to shape the future of the center is very rewarding.”

Roche underwent an MRI at Long Ridge, which revealed a serious tear of the subscapularis tendon in his left shoulder’s rotator cuff. Dr. Tifford performed arthroscopic surgery to repair the tendon at Greenwich Hospital.

“The check-in procedure at Greenwich Hospital was painless and my surgery went smoothly,” said Roche, who went home that same day. The Stamford resident had several follow-up visits with Dr. Tifford back at Long Ridge, where he received physical therapy for three months.

“My therapist led me through a variety of exercises to strengthen the shoulder,” said Roche. “By the end of the therapy sessions, I had regained more than 90 percent range of motion and was feeling no pain.” The day after Thanksgiving, he was bombing down the slopes again in Vermont, “with no problem at all.”

That’s music to the ears of Tom Milucci, PT, director of physical medicine at both Greenwich Hospital and the Long Ridge site, where he oversees a full-time staff of seven physical and occupational therapists. “We wanted a large, open gym area for doing a variety of dynamic exercises,” Milucci said, “as well as private rooms with treatment tables.”

Marc Kosak, senior vice president of operations at Greenwich Hospital, was integrally involved in developing Long Ridge Medical Center. “As a healthcare network, we want to make sure we have outpatient centers and ambulatory sites in the areas where patients live,” he said. “We’re putting services in the communities to make them more accessible, easier to get to and improve the overall patient experience.”

The expansive physical therapy area at Long Ridge Medical Center features plenty of natural lighting and the latest rehabilitation equipment.

Outpatient Facilities

Long Ridge Medical Center is one of numerous stand-alone specialty centers Yale New Haven Health has opened across southern Connecticut in recent years. It represents the nationwide healthcare trend of building outpatient facilities that offer a variety of services to community residents, as well as a convenient alternative to going to the hospital. What’s more, because the health system is an academic medical center, patients at Long Ridge have access to clinical trials and cutting-edge therapies that other hospitals in the region may not offer.

“It’s important to have surgical and nonsurgical physicians and specialists at the same site,” Dr. O’Connor said. “A patient comes to the center to see one doctor, but that doctor can walk across the hall to consult with another doctor or the patient’s therapist. Even in our hyperconnected world, with texts and electronic medical records, there is still no substitute for doctors discussing a patient’s case face to face.”

Long Ridge Medical Center has room to expand beyond its current footprint. “We’re always talking with our partners about what other services make sense as we continue to grow,” Kosak said.

For the time being, though, Roche is just happy Long Ridge is a community resource. “It was really convenient to go to one place for my exams, MRI, and physical therapy instead of having to drive all over the place,” he said. “It made what could have been a tough slog a whole lot better.”

From soothing artwork to comfortable waiting areas, Long Ridge Medical Center was designed with patient ease in mind.