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Orthopedic excellence

July 13, 2011
The Daily Mining Gazette

LAURIUM - Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital is leading the way in orthopedic excellence.

"We were very fortunate with the addition of a highly talented surgeon, Dr. Ken Pherson, who brought revolutionary surgical technology and experience to the Keweenaw," said Dr. Jerry Luoma, medical director for Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital. "As Dr. Pherson's excellent reputation built volume we were then ready to grow the program further."

Dr. Luoma said the development of Aspirus Keweenaw's in-house orthopedic program began last year, with the hiring of orthopedic surgeon Dr. Pherson.

Article Photos

Dr. Ken Pherson, orthopedic surgeon at Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital, left, stands with Orthopedic Physician Assistant Jesse Primeau in Houghton.

Dr. Pherson specializes in general orthopedics, including total and partial knee replacement and arthroscopy; total and partial hip replacement; shoulder repair and arthroscopy; orthopedic emergencies and fractures; carpal tunnel, hand/finger tendon repair; and medical, surgical and physical therapy solutions.

Of particular note, Dr. Pherson was one of the first specialists in the Upper Peninsula to perform the Oxford Partial Knee replacement surgery.

Hailing from a small Indiana town, Dr. Pherson earned his medical degree from the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University in Chicago, at which he completed his 10-year residency.

Through a locums company, Dr. Pherson was matched with Aspirus Keweenaw on a temporary basis. However, it wasn't long before he made his stay permanent in the U.P.

"I was looking for a place to practice that was a small-town atmosphere and I liked it here," he said. "I signed on with Aspirus full time when we realized it was a good fit."

Dr. Luoma said building the orthopedic program, essentially from the ground up, required a careful, step-by-step process, training medical staff and hiring additional medical professionals.

"We made a conscious decision to do this slowly deliberately and do it right," he said. "Our mission is 'Passion for Excellence. Compassion for People.' This lives true in everything Aspirus Keweenaw does for the community."

Dr. Luoma said because Aspirus Keweenaw does serve a large elderly population, there was a need for an in-house orthopedic program. As the patient load increased, he said it was necessary to hire further support staff, and in May, Orthopedic Physician Assistant Jesse Primeau joined the team.

"Jesse has been fantastic in helping our clinic and surgical team manage time, create efficiencies and deliver highly positive patient experiences," he said.

Primeau, a Houghton High School graduate, earned his undergraduate degree from Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich., before attending graduate school at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Mich., where he then completed their Orthopedic Residency program in the following six years.

"I was excited to get into orthopedics because people come to you with a problem, pain, ailment, or injury and you can figure out what's going on and institute some type of treatment plan," Primeau said. "You can really make a difference for people."

Both Primeau and Dr. Pherson believe in the importance of patient education and taking the time one-on-one to help them understand their visit from start to finish.

"This is much more personal here," Dr. Pherson said. "They get to see me. We talk and that's one of the biggest things I've heard feedback on is patients like the fact that I sit down and explain things to them and they understand. They knew what was going on, what was going to happen and what to expect, so I try my best to never make a patient feel like they're rushed."

With Aspirus Keweenaw now serving a full spectrum of orthopedic needs, Primeau said patients don't have to worry about traveling elsewhere for care.

"They can feel confident that they're getting high quality care right here," he said.

The orthopedic team, which also includes orthopedic nurse Nonie Riutta, sees patients five days a week in the Laurium clinic. Surgeries are also performed weekly.

Dr. Luoma said he's pleased to announce they're bringing in an additional orthopedic surgeon who specializes in arthroscopic shoulder repair. The new specialist is expected to join the orthopedics team early August.

Providing high quality patient care requires a team effort and part of every great orthopedic program is the physical and occupational therapists who support patients before and after any surgical procedure.

Aspirus Keweenaw Outpatient Therapies professional staff has extensive training and experience treating patients with a wide variety of needs to help them regain strength and independence, so that they can return to their everyday lives.

Since Dr. Pherson joined the team at Aspirus Keweenaw, he said he's gotten to know quite a few of his patients and received lots of positive feedback.

One of his patients, Mike, of Skanee, said, "Dr. Pherson was more than thorough with his examination. He's very confident in what he does and he's straightforward and tells you what he's going to do and how he's going to do it. I would definitely recommend Dr. Pherson to my family and friends, without hesitation."

For more information, or to schedule an appointment call 337-6560 or visit

Editor's note: This feature is part of a paid advertising package purchased by Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital of Laurium. Businesses interested in being featured on the Business page may call Yvonne Robillard at 483-2220.



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