Fairbanksans no longer have to travel south for orthopedic needs

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Shriners are known for their parade go-carts and onion sale fundraisers, as well as the care they provide for children. Thanks to a partnership between Shriners Hospital for Children and McKinley Orthopedic, families no longer have to travel great distances to get the treatment they need. For years families of children with orthopedic needs would have to travel to either Washington or Oregon to be treated. Now they only have to travel as far as Geist Road.
In a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday, McKinley Orthopedic officially announced their partnership with Shriners Hospitals for Children in Spokane to bring orthopedic surgeons to Fairbanks on a quarterly basis. Peter Brewer is the CEO for Shriners Hospital Spokane and shares what practices they will offer.
"Well, we are coming up here with our fellowship trained pediatric orthopedic surgeons, and they take care of anything from simple fractures, all the way up to the other end of the spectrum with very difficult hips, scoliosis, things of that nature. So a full gamut of orthopedic care," said Brewer.
There are between 120 and 130 children in Alaska that are helped by Shriners, so this presence in Fairbanks will cut down on travel costs, allowing those funds to be used in other areas. Owner of McKinley Orthopedics, Timothy Carey, says having this care available to Fairbanks is a blessing.
"Shriners is an outreach group that does a lot of charitable stuff and they are the best at what they do when it comes to pediatric orthopedics so to have a specialist for me to either ask questions to, or to have them come see some of the children here it just, it give Fairbanks state of the art care that isn't available everywhere," said Carey.
According to Shrine Chief Rabban, Kevin Tennant, even though this is their first presence in Fairbanks, there are 600 fez wearing Shriners in Alaska. He also said they saw quite a few new patients.
"We have, I was told, 14 kids coming in today," said Tennant.
Brittany Hartmann is one of the many people helped by Shriners and shares her story.
"I went to a clinic here, a cleft lip and palate clinic, ad they introduced us to Shriners. And I ended up getting four surgeries for my cleft lip and palate for free. They took care of travel, hotel, food, everything, every bill, anesthesia they took care of all of it. And I can honestly tell you that going there, being in that hospital, I don't like hospitals, but they treated you like you are very important. They really cared about you. The doctors, they do it as a charity, and just the nurses were great, the staff was great, the surgeons were great and I owe them a lot," said Hartmann.
Shriners hopes to make this presence the first of many in Fairbanks.
To set up an appointment with Shriners and McKinley Orthopedics, you can call 456-3338 or visit www.mckinleyortho.com.