Bellin clinic will provide pro-level care to everyday athletes

Richard Ryman
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Dr. James Ebben, medical director of Bellin Health sports medicine

ASHWAUBENON – Bellin Health Titletown Sports Medicine & Orthopedics has quite the building, but it will be the doctors and staff that set it apart.

The clinic will be led by four Fellowship-trained doctors: James Ebben, Bellin Health medical director of sports medicine; Patrick McKenzie, who also is the Green Bay Packers team physician; James Spears; and Robert Anderson, a renowned specialist in ankle and foot injuries sought after by a wide variety of professional athletes.

"When you combine that kind of facility and all the state-of-art expertise it provides with Fellowship-trained physicians and trained staff members, it should become a destination location," said Anderson.

The clinic is in the Titletown District, near Blue Ridge Drive and True Lane, immediately west of Lodge Kohler. A ribbon cutting is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

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A key element of the clinic will be free, walk-in evaluations, regardless of insurance carrier or regular caregivers. Bellin, of course, would like to provide treatment, but it's not a requirement.

Services will include athletic performance classes and personal training, state-of-the-art 3-D movement analysis, free walk-in injury assessments with an athletic trainer, same-day appointments with a sports medicine physician, physical and occupational therapy, and diagnostics using best available X-ray and MRI equipment. And, of course, surgery and treatment by highly trained doctors. 

Dr. Patrick McKenzie, Bellin Health

Providing a fast turnaround, from examination to treatment plan, is a primary goal. The building design seeks to minimize the amount of movement required by patients as they go from procedure to procedure. 

"That's a big part of our goal, to be a one-stop shop," Spears said. 

The new building will offer the latest technology, Ebben said.

"We can offer such unique evaluations of an athlete. I'm pretty amazed we can do this in a community the size of Green Bay," he said. 

More than Packers

A key reason they can do it in Green Bay rests largely with the Packers, who are a Bellin partner, landlord and client. But the Packers are only part of the picture. The bulk of patients will be everyday folks who have everyday orthopedic problems and will be treated by the same doctors as the professional athletes.

"The experience will be the same, whether you are a professional athlete with the Packers or an athlete at West High School," McKenzie said. 

Ebben is the primary care physician among the four doctors. McKenzie specializes in ACLs, Spears in knees and shoulders, and Anderson in feet and ankles, although all can treat a wide range of orthopedic problems.

Fellowship doctors spend 13 or 14 years to become orthopedic surgeons in a subspeciality, such as in shoulder or ankle care. 

Ebben and McKenzie have been talking about a clinic of this type for 20 years. Technology and opportunity finally caught up to their vision.

Dr. Robert Anderson, Bellin Health

Anderson and McKenzie attended medical school together and remained close friends. McKenzie and Spears did Fellowship training with Dr. James Andrews, an early innovator in arthroscopic surgery whose list of high-profile patients is as large as anyone's.

"I have total respect for the rest of the guys in our community, but we are trying to be different," McKenzie said. "I don't think it's as much to do with the Packers as much as who's seeing patients. That's what I think is going to raise the quality of care."

Anderson developed a successful clinic in North Carolina, where he also was a team physician for the Carolina Panthers. Joining Bellin will be a homecoming. He was raised in the Milwaukee area and his wife is from Marinette. He will transition out of his Charlotte practice by working one week a month in Green Bay until he joins Bellin full time in January. 

"I've always enjoyed the opportunity to take care of high-level career elite athletes. This will give me the opportunity to take care of athletes of all levels and ages," he said. "This gives me the opportunity (too) to remain involved with a professional football team."

Learning to do it right

Bellin's 43 licensed athletic trainers, who work with schools throughout the region, will also call the Titletown District clinic home. They will provide the free walk-in evaluations, among other duties.

Dr. James Spears, Bellin Health

The athletic trainers work with up to 10,000 student athletes at more than 26 schools and organizations, and they are beginning to work with communities as well, said Mark Husen, team facilitator for business and growth development. 

In addition to treating injuries, the clinic will help athletes improve performance and prevent injuries. It has labs for evaluating running, biking, throwing and much more. Movement is filmed, observed, studied and corrected.

"People get injured at just about any level," Spears said. "A lot of the injuries we see ... it's really they just trained in the wrong way potentially for 20 years. They can get through a lot of things they shouldn't be able to get through because they are young, but it always catches up with you."

Teaching coaches and athletes the right way to do things will be part of the clinic's mission. The building includes conference rooms for meetings and training. A session with coaches already is scheduled in the coming weeks.

Mark Husen, team facilitator of business growth and development at Bellin Health, talks about the technology in an exam room at the new Bellin Health Titletown Sports Medicine and Orthopedics clinic, which opens Tuesday in Ashwaubenon.


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