Expanding Orthopaedic Relationships to Southeast Asia

Five orthopaedic surgeons from Southeast Asia wrapped up a visit to Tucson last week, exchanging professional experiences and knowledge with local physicians – and taking home a little piece of UA Baseball while they were at it.

Dr. Lawrence Housman, a total joint surgeon at Tucson Orthopaedic Institute, volunteered to host the surgeons, visiting through the American Orthopaedic Association and the Association of Southeast Asian NationsTraveling Fellowship program.

The surgeons, from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, were able to tour the orthopaedic centers of Tucson Orthopaedic Institute and University Medical Center. They observed surgery at TMC with Dr. Housman and a host of other physicians, and were able to learn more about Tucson Orthopaedic Institute research projects.

“It was very interesting to hear about experiences in other parts of the world,” said Dr. Housman.

He noted, for example, that insurance companies in most of those countries do not cover prosthetic implants for joint replacements. And he learned that for both cultural and financial reasons in the Philippines, for instance, many patients refuse surgery to treat broken hips, preferring traction instead, despite far worse outcomes.

In some of the countries, families subsist on mere dollars a day, so delays in treatment are common. Despite the economic disparities, the visiting surgeons had modern equipment and training. And since they had largely trained in the United States or Europe, communication was a breeze.

The summer heat was more problematic, although the group gamely toured the Biosphere 2 Center.

Before they left, Dr. Housman gave each Fellow a souvenir UA Baseball championship T-shirt. In return, he was presented with a plaque to express their gratitude for his hospitality.

The Fellows concluded their U.S. tour with the American Orthopaedic Association’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Housman said he showed the group the new TMC Orthopaedic and Surgical Tower, which will be the only center dedicated to orthopaedics in Southern Arizona when it opens in spring 2013. Tucson Orthopaedic Institute will have its medical offices and clinics on the first floor of the new building.

He joked he encouraged them to come back next year to see the final product – but not in the summer, naturally.

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