As a leader in this region’s orthopedic care and joint replacement procedures, the Valley Baptist Medical Center — Harlingen Orthopedic Program offers comprehensive services that are unmatched.
The Valley Baptist Orthopedic Program team is composed of surgeons and family nurse practitioners who are dedicated to helping residents across the RGV get back to their everyday life with increased functionality.
“We have a very well-rounded, comprehensive team made up of several providers with different specialties,” said Nubia Benavides, nurse practitioner.
Recently, the orthopedic surgical team has become its own individual department. The orthopedic surgeons have partnered with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley as faculty members.
“All of us here working as a group are very happy to be serving the RGV. We love working at the first Level II trauma center in the area,” Dr. Joseph Horton said.
Altogether, the orthopedic team at Valley Baptist ensures that patients there are in good hands.
Dr. Rick Bassett, well-known for his cutting-edge designs of hip and knee replacements, has been with Valley Baptist since 1983. Bassett is an engineer whose four prostheses have impacted patients around the globe. The implants he has designed are used worldwide, and he has given presentations in over 28 countries to educate others on how to implement them in their surgeries.
“There are several different ways orthopedics can help alleviate pain and improve bodily function,” Bassett said.
Dr. Savvas Poulos specializes in hand surgery as well as trauma procedures and has been with Valley Baptist for 25 years. For the most part, Dr. Poulos performs surgeries on patients suffering from arthritis, carpal tunnel, or tendonitis.
“The functionality of the hands is very important for overall quality of life,” he said. “Usually, the surgeries I perform are on a case-by-case basis, as every patient is different.”
Focusing on surgeries whose main goal is to improve a patient’s quality of life, the Valley Baptist Orthopedic Program resolves sports medicine injuries along with hip, joint, knee, shoulder, and foot pain.
“We fix broken bones in trauma, perform bone reconstruction in arthritic patients, and [specialize in] sports medicine, where we are taking your athletes and weekend warriors and helping them get back to what they do,” said Dr. Horton, who has been with Valley Baptist for the past four years.
Completing his fellowship in sports medicine, Dr. Horton’s specialty surgeries consist of shoulder and knee arthroscopies, total hip and knee replacement, and trauma.
“I am proud to be working with cutting edge orthopedics and taking care of the people in the Valley,” Horton said.
Nurse practitioner Heather Smith, who specializes in sports medicine and the non-surgical side of arthritis, has been with Valley Baptist for a year-and-a-half.
Smith is the hospital’s eyes and ears in the community, representing the organization at community functions in the surrounding school districts, football games, at the Harlingen Marathon, and other sporting events prior to the pandemic.
One of the most common injuries in athletes is a torn ACL. The orthopedic program offers full ACL reconstruction, using cadaver tissue or tissue from the patient’s own hamstrings, creating a new ACL.
The orthopedic surgeons offer a thorough evaluation and screening process, communicating with patients’ family members and discussing all possible outcomes.
Dr. Vishwas Patil is a Valley Baptist orthopedic surgeon whose scope includes pediatrics. Throughout his two years with the department, he has seen patients with chronic hip pain, trauma, and pain in knees and ankles as well as shoulders and elbows.
“I try to use all nonsurgical options and modalities first. If none are working for them, we do opt for surgeries,” Patil said. “If their hip or knee pain is affecting their quality of life, that is when I recommend surgical options.”
Depending on the patients’ medical history, they need to be cleared before moving forward with surgery.
“I want them to make an informed decision after having a clear idea of the possible outcomes,” Patil said.
Dr. Bassett acknowledged the important role the department’s extended medical staff plays in the bigger picture and boasted about nurses in the Valley Baptist Orthopedic Unit having won a center of excellence award from the state of Texas for the fifth year in a row.
“Our nurses and our therapists are exceptional,” he said. “Our patients are extremely grateful to them. Without their help, we wouldn’t be able to provide [patients] with the level of care and service that we do.”