August 18, 2017
NORTON, Kan. – At its regular monthly meeting on Aug. 16th, the Norton County Hospital Board of Trustees decided to continue orthopedic surgical services at the hospital. Originally, the board and administration had announced phasing out orthopedic and general surgeries due to the planned surgery expansion and renovation project being indefinitely suspended and financial losses the hospital has faced from surgical services.
This latest decision means orthopedic surgeries performed by Dr. Greg Sarin will continue. Dr. Sarin visits Norton at least twice per month for his orthopedic clinic and performs some surgeries on site. Although he is from Colorado, Dr. Sarin travels to some Kansas hospitals – including Norton County Hospital – to see patients.
“Dr. Sarin has been coming to Norton County Hospital for about a year now. We had several upfront costs to start orthopedic surgical services, including staff training and equipment, and we need to give this service a chance to grow,” said Gina Frack, Norton County Hospital’s interim CEO. “After seeing data showing how services can grow and be sustainable when given a viable opportunity, we felt continuing these services was the best option right now.”
Dr. Sarin’s clinic has grown over the past several months and has allowed patients to seek specialty orthopedic services close to their homes. Two other items helped make the decision to continue these services. One is the addition of a new physician assistant, Taylor Bieberle, who comes to Norton County Hospital with orthopedic training among other areas of family practice. Bieberle signed with the hospital after the original decision to phase out orthopedic surgeries had been made, so his addition required another look at orthopedics. Bieberle will begin seeing patients at the hospital and Norton Medical Clinic later this fall.
Another service line at the hospital that could benefit from an orthopedic surgeon visiting Norton is the addition of a new special testing system, called the Physical Capacity Profile®, at Norton County Hospital. This is a proven system that allows health care staff to medically document that a new employee has the strength to perform requirements of a new job, therefore helping reduce the opportunity for injury on the job.
“With these recent changes and additions at Norton County Hospital, we feel we could offer a full scope of orthopedic services to Norton County and the surrounding region. We have outstanding family practice providers in our clinics and a strong rehabilitation program that includes physical and occupational therapy. We also need to have an orthopedic specialist with the team to make it all work effectively,” Frack said.
While orthopedic surgeries will continue, the plan remains in place to phase out general surgeries performed by Dr. Pamela Steinle, whose last day of employment with Norton County Hospital will be Aug. 31, 2017. Frack said this decision remains in effect due to lack of volumes for general surgeries but that she sincerely appreciates the work Dr. Steinle has done for patients and the hospital.
“Dr. Steinle has been with us since 2015 working about three days per week,” Frack said. “While we don’t want to discontinue services, we have not experienced enough patients needing scheduled general surgeries. We wish Dr. Steinle nothing but the best, as she has offered our hospital a lot of knowledge and experience in her field.”
Patients should know that endoscopy procedures, such as colonoscopies and upper endoscopies, will continue to be available at Norton County Hospital by Dr. Tom Kriley, family practice, and the hospital’s surgical nursing team. The hospital will also continue to provide women’s health services, including labor and delivery. Cesarean sections will continue to be available, as well as services offered by Dr. Todd Pankratz, a visiting OBGYN specialist, who performs some surgeries in Norton.
Norton County Hospital thanks members of the public for their understanding and patience. To make an appointment with one of the providers or to find out more information about Norton County Hospital, the appropriate contact information can be found online. Patients can also contact the hospital at 785-877-3351 or Norton Medical Clinic at 785-877-3305.