OrthoRI moves ahead with new facility opening in Warwick

by Richard Asinof, – contributing writer, health

Photo: OrthoRI, the new facility at 300 Crossings in Warwick will feature same-day ambulatory surgery.

On March 1, 2021, Ortho RI is scheduled to open its new 66,000-square-foot facility at 300 Crossings, a major step forward for the non-hospital-centric orthopedic practice, the largest orthopedic group practice in Rhode Island.

The new facility is the latest chapter in the success story for the orthopedic group practice that was organized around the principal of putting the patients’ needs first. The new facility, built adjacent to the Crowne Plaza Hotel, will feature same-day ambulatory surgery for patients, with eight operating rooms on the third floor.

The first floor will include physical therapy and occupational therapy services, as well as Ortho RI Express, which will allow patients to receive same-day care. The second floor will have some 50 exam rooms designed in a pod fashion. The design of the new facility incorporated input from patients about what they wanted from the practice.

In a time when the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted so much of the health care delivery system, deluging hospitals and health centers with an avalanche of patients, the new Ortho RI facility is what Mary Ellen Ashe, the executive director of Ortho RI, called “a good news story,” one that has been kept well under the radar screen.

“I think it has been helpful for us to stay under the radar screen,” Ashe told ConvergenceRI in a recent interview. “To tell the truth, it’s hard to be under the radar screen when you have an almost 70,000 square foot building going up along Route 95.”

Was Ashe at all worried about competing against the potential consolidated health care giant that would be created by the potential merger of Care New England, Lifespan, Brown University and Coastal Medical?

No, she answered, without hesitation. “We have top-notch, world-class surgeons, the latest in technology, innovation, and robotics, and a state-of-the-art building. We are confident that we can be competitive,” Ashe said, stressing the core principal around which the orthopedic group practice was first organized: putting the patient’s need first.

Here is the ConvergenceRI interview with Mary Ellen Ashe, the executive director of Ortho RI, on the cusp of opening the new facility that will serve as a tool to expand the quality of care offered by the group practice.

ConvergenceRI: What is happening with the new building? When are you scheduled to open?
ASHE: We are planning for a March 1 opening. And, that’s really on schedule for us, and on time.

ConvergenceRI: Wow.
ASHE: We give a lot of that credit to not only to the planning, but to the execution. Our developer, Calspan, their project manager, and our construction manager have been just fabulous. They have been on site, overseeing the workers and all the construction and keeping everybody safe, through COVID.

ConvergenceRI: What has happened with the cost of the project? You say that you are on time for the scheduled opening. But have your expenses gone up as a result?
ASHE: Our expenses have not gone up. Actually, with the drop in interest rates, it’s really been to our advantage. It’s been a positive.

ConvergenceRI: Can you give me a quick run-down of what all the facilities in the new building will entail?
ASHE: The entire building is 66,000 square feet. The first floor will feature Ortho RI Express for same-day care. The first floor will also have physical therapy, occupational therapy, and advance imaging, which is essentially, MRI.

The second floor will all be medical office space and exam rooms, with 50-plus exam rooms, divided into four pod areas. Each pod area will have its own X-ray equipment.

On the third floor will be the Ortho RI surgery center, with eight ORs and two procedure rooms.

ConvergenceRI: When a patient has surgery it will be ambulatory, is that correct?
ASHE: It’s ambulatory; it’s same-day surgery, with the facility designed to do same-day surgeries such as outpatient joints, which are now same-day surgeries. Not all joints are outpatient surgeries.

All physical therapy is on the first floor, and that is by design. We have designed the building with a lot of natural light, which is something our patients and staff asked for.

We have also designed the building around what patients asked for in terms of patient flow, looking to reduce wait times. Everything will be electronic; patients can register before their visit, they can pay their co-pay with contact-less payment before their visit.

Everything is designed around patient convenience. So therapy and Ortho RI Express are on the first floor. We wanted to make it the most convenient location, so you can just come in and go out, and there’s no need to take an elevator or stairs.

ConvergenceRI: You have pioneered a new model of care, which is non-hospital-centric, which seems to be thriving In the wings there is a huge potential merger that would consolidate Care New England, Lifespan and Brown in one entity. What gives you confidence that you can compete against such a monolith?
ASHE: We’re confident in the quality and the value we offer. We have stuck to our mission and vision, putting the patient first. We know that we bring quality and value to the marketplace.

ConvergenceRI: When I first interviewed you, four years ago, the founders of Ortho Rhode Island put a big emphasis on putting the customer first and organizing the practice around the needs of the patients. Is that still the principle behind everything?
ASHE: It is our number-one goal in everything that we do, in every decision that we make, every person that we hire, every job description, every performance evaluation – everything is weighed against that goal.

We are conducting an ongoing leadership training for our entire organization that is based on our internal values, which are all centered around patient-driven experience. We expect all of our physicians and staff to be able to tell us what our mission is, to say: We are here to provide the best patient experience in the industry.

We are now working on key performance indicators, to make sure that happens in each of their respective areas, to turn that statement into measurable goals and tactics.

ConvergenceRI: Yours is an incredibly positive story, given all the dire news with the coronavirus pandemic.
ASHE: It is an upbeat story. We are a good story. It’s nice because having the building as a tool to help us accomplish what we are trying to do. One of our goals is to be able to attract the A-Team of management and physicians.

We’re finding that physicians are reaching out to us, surgeons are reaching out to us. Some of them are people that we know, that our physicians know, who have left the area and now want to come back, because this facility provides the tools and the environment that they want to practice in.


Richard Asinof

Richard Asinof is the founder and editor of ConvergenceRI, an online subscription newsletter offering news and analysis at the convergence of health, science, technology and innovation in Rhode Island.