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Bozeman's Bridger Orthopedic designated first 'Center of Excellence' in Montana

Posted at 8:38 AM, Jul 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-23 10:38:44-04

BOZEMAN — “I’m an old hand here at Bridger,” said Tony Santos, a retired veteran who has experienced knee, spine, shoulder, and neck problems as a result of his duties. 

“I used to be one of those guys that wears a wet suit and fins, jumping out of helicopters," he said. “I’ve been in a couple of helicopter crashes.”

Santos came to see Dr. Ben Smith at Bridger Orthopedics who performed surgery a little over two-and-a-half months ago. 

“I feel great now,” said Santos. “I’m up and moving and I’m not walking all hunched over.”

For ex-football player Richard Browning, it was a full hip replacement. 

“They are so talented, so caring, and right there with you,” said Browning. “Each person was right there with you until they handed you off to the next person.”

Bridger Orthopedics has been around for several decades. The practice initially started with spine, joint, and sports medicine physicians. Today, the practice has expanded and was recently named a Center of Excellence, the first in the state to receive this designation. 

“That’s really what sets us apart.” said orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Martin Gelpke. “Focusing on optimizing patients beforehand and making sure that their entire path through surgery is nice and smooth.” 

Dr. Ben Smith, also an orthopedic surgeon, said that looking at the growth of Bozeman lit a fire underneath them.

“I think it was imperative that we needed to be as competitive as possible,” said Dr. Smith. “The way to do so is to improve the quality.

Part of improving quality is expanding. Bridger Orthopedic will soon have its own wing in the hospital.  

Dr. Gelpke said having their own wing designated to just orthopedic procedures will be a game changer.

That construction is gonna start really soon and we’re super excited about it,” said Gelpke. “It’s gonna be fantastic.”

This new wing of the hospital will have larger rooms to allow loved ones to stay with a patient, a physical therapy area, a gym, and a “Bobcat room” for MSU fans. All of this, once again, an effort to increase comfort and satisfaction for their patients.   

“I’m so grateful to have been in their care,” said Browning. “I still feel like I’m in their care.”