Orthopedic surgeon Jonathan Wang, M.D., recently celebrated his fifth anniversary with SEBMF. His energy and enthusiasm are palpable as he describes his unique role: Along with performing surgeries at Eden Medical Center, he serves patients at both SEBMF’s Castro Valley Care Center and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s Dublin Center.
“I had an established base in Castro Valley and was asked if I’d be willing to expand orthopedic services to PAMF Dublin,” Dr. Wang explains. “It’s a privilege to extend care to patients under the same healthcare umbrella without requiring them to travel to the East Bay. I can use one medical record while also easily consulting and collaborating with my orthopedic colleagues at PAMF.”
This collaboration is the vision of Sam Santoro, D.O., FACOG, president and CEO of the Sutter East Bay Medical Group, whom Dr. Wang holds in high regard. “I met with Dr. Santoro personally when I was hired by Sutter Health, and I knew right away this would be a good fit for me professionally,” Dr. Wang says. “He is a wonderful person, doctor and leader, and I am very grateful to be a part of an organization filled with such talented people. Sutter lets me focus on patients in ways I would not be able to running my own private practice.”
Dr. Wang attended medical school at the University of California, Davis and completed his residency with the San Francisco Orthopedic Medical Program, which rotates residents through five Northern California hospitals. This experience led him to pursue a one-year fellowship to specialize in hip and knee replacement.
When asked how the orthopedics field has changed during his career, “I could do a lecture, there have been so many advancements in hip and knee replacement,” Dr. Wang laughs.
But in his opinion, the biggest game changers include early rehabilitation and mobilization practices, which used to start after two weeks in bed but now begin the day of surgery to work on range of motion right away. Secondly, Dr. Wang cites improved pain management techniques that help people begin rehab sooner with minimal discomfort. Third, he notes advancements in both implants and the visualization technologies that help him precisely plan surgeries in advance.
Another significant evolution is that each patient’s pathology and lifestyle are now significant factors in determining the best treatment plan. “Historically, patients were told to wait as long as possible for replacement surgeries,” Dr. Wang says. “But by then they were sometimes too weak or sick to realize the benefits of a replacement.”
Today, Dr. Wang often sees patients in their 50s and 60s, sometimes even younger, whose degree of disease is severe and whose quality of life can be enhanced with surgery. “The decision to undergo joint replacement surgery is very personalized, and the patient is very involved in the decision-making,” he explains.
This spring Dr. Wang experienced a huge change to his workflow due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Patient volumes slowed to a trickle as the state asked healthcare organizations to cancel nonurgent surgeries, so he volunteered for high-impact areas at Eden Medical Center. Should the emergency department or intensive care unit have needed help in the event of a COVID-19 patient surge, he was trained and ready to go.
“I was fully ready to be part of the cavalry to help my colleagues,” Dr. Wang says. “Thankfully, because we are part of the Sutter Health system and through donor support, resources at Eden were sufficient and I was not deployed in this way.” His case load has since increased as patients have returned to routine healthcare.
Dr. Wang appreciates the outpouring of support the community has shown Eden, SEBMF and PAMF during the pandemic. He recently received guardian angel tributes — gifts from patients honoring their caregivers — and is grateful for the generosity.