ENTERPRISE — An orthopedic surgery option is coming back to Wallowa County.
Wallowa Memorial Hospital is bringing back an orthopedic surgeon on Tuesday, June 1, when Dr. Bradley Smith begins his first day on the job after being recently hired, according to a press release from the hospital.
“I am very excited to join the excellent team at Wallowa Memorial Hospital,” Smith said in the release. “The physical/occupational therapists, radiology department, surgical team and hospital staff have just what it takes to get injured folks back to their activities all without having to travel far away for orthopedic care.”
It has been about a decade since WMH had an orthopedic surgeon on staff. Wallowa Memorial Hospital Communications Director Brooke Pace said Dr. Bradford Stephens, who retired in 2011, was the last one at the hospital.
“Previous volumes have not supported a full-time orthopedic surgeon, and we were able to partner with Grande Ronde Hospital to provide visiting specialist services for the last 10 years,” Pace said of how the hospital handled cases during the last decade.
She said a visiting orthopedist came to the county between two and four times a month. Some procedures also happened away from the county.
“Even with the visiting services, some orthopedic surgeries were needed to be conducted outside of Wallowa County,” she said.
Both Wallowa and Union counties have seen an increase in demand for orthopedic care, Pace said. The press release stated the hire of Smith “feels incredibly important as the demand for regional orthopedic services is on the rise.”
Smith has practiced orthopedic surgery for more than two decades, and has worked in northern California and Alaska, according to the release. His orthopedic experience includes treating injuries and ‘wear and tear’ to ligaments, bones and tendons, and he has experience performing shoulder, hip and knee repair procedures. He has treated individuals of all ages, from toddlers to seniors. The release states that his philosophy on treatment is “to do what needs to be done, but to do no more and to keep things as simple as possible.”
“Dr. Smith has an incredible amount of experience in a rural setting,” Pace said. “Pair that with the quality of work he has done and his desire to work part-time, he was the perfect fit.”
Smith comes from a long line of care providers, as his grandfather was a physician and his father was an orthopedic surgeon. According to the press release, he started assisting his father in surgeries as young as age 12. He attended medical school and received orthopedic training from Loma Linda University Medical Center east of Los Angeles.