In 2019, CentraCare and University of Minnesota Physicians (M Physicians) formed a partnership to meet the growing demand for orthopedic services in the St. Cloud area. Two years into the collaboration, aimed at expanding care backed by research and education at the U of M, the partnership has been making significant progress meeting its goals. 

“One of the biggest changes in the past year has been the incorporation of two new surgeons, a physician assistant and a nurse practitioner,” said Fernando Peña, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with M Physicians and the partnership’s orthopedic program lead. “The relationship and alignment continue getting stronger because the level of cooperation is exceptional.”

The partnership between M Physicians and CentraCare was originally launched with three orthopedic surgeons specializing in trauma, foot and ankle and sports medicine. Kyle Martin, MD, FRCSC, a sports medicine specialist with M Physicians, provides the gamut of knee, hip and shoulder treatment. He is actively involved in research aimed at using artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve how surgical outcomes are predicted and treated. Robert Jacobs, MD, an orthopedic trauma surgeon with M Physicians, routinely treats fractures, nonunion, malunions and more anywhere from patients’ feet up to their collarbone. Stephen Jacobsen, MD, a foot and ankle specialist with M Physicians, performs total ankle replacements, deformity corrections, foot and ankle surgery and more.

“Nobody else is doing what they’re doing,” Dr. Peña said. “They’re providing the exact same quality care as the University of Minnesota or M Physicians sites, which is a wonderful service to the people of central Minnesota.”

The team’s two new surgeons, Kimberly Jacobsen, MD, an orthopedic traumatologist, and David Karges, DO, a traumatologist with additional foot and ankle experience, will be joining the practice in November. The partnership also has plans to expand its specialized treatment options in 2022, with hopes to add arthroplasty, upper extremity and sports medicine surgeons. 

“One of our main goals is to provide local subspecialty care for patients in central Minnesota rather than having them drive to the Twin Cities for care,” Dr. Martin said. “So far the response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive and many patients have expressed gratitude for our availability so close to their homes.”

With the surge in adoption of telehealth during the pandemic, CentraCare also aims to increase its virtual health options to reach even more patients.

“A year from now, we’d like to have 30% of postoperative clinic visits take place virtually to expand care options throughout northern Minnesota,” Dr. Peña said. “Our CentraCare partners are very innovative, resourceful and provide great synergy with our department.”

This means that patients can get the same level of care provided in the Twin Cities closer to home – backed by the latest discoveries at the U of M. There’s also significant collaboration between faculty based in Minneapolis and the St. Cloud surgeons.

“Our standard of care is impeccable, following the same parameters and metrics as the University,” Dr. Peña said. “The cutting-edge research and education really differentiate us. Our way of practicing medicine is backed by research, peer review and teaching that we’ve done for over 50 years.”

With the addition of more orthopedic subspecialists and services, the partnership’s upcoming plans are to move to a bigger facility and continue to grow and recruit, building the program into a unique and unparalleled destination for orthopedic care in central and northern Minnesota.

“As partners, CentraCare and M Physicians have tremendous interest and passion for each other’s success. This has created a synergy that will add value to our shared goal of providing cutting-edge, compassionate orthopedic care,” Dr. Peña said. “We believe that we’re basically scratching the surface and that this could be tremendously large, and potentially a pilot project that other services within M Physicians could do.”

Learn more about the CentraCare M Physicians Orthopedics partnership.