Surgery center dream comes to fruition

The $14 million Surgery Center of Eastern New Mexico includes Operating Suite 1 in the 13,000-square-foot complex west of Clovis. (CNJ Staff Photo: Andy DeLisle)

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

When a general surgeon freed a compressed nerve in his patient’s hand, the doors to a new Clovis surgery center officially opened.

Performed to relieve carpal tunnel syndrome, the Nov. 17 surgery was endoscopic — a camera gave Dr. Jacob George an inside view of the hand on which he operated.
The Surgery Center of Eastern New Mexico at 2421 W. 21st St. employs state-of-the-art technology. Two years in the making, it also embodies a long-held dream of eight surgeons.

Roughly $750,000 worth of equipment is housed in the endoscopic surgery room alone, according to center officials. Prior to its opening, much of the technology employed at the facility was only available 100 miles away from Clovis, center officials said.

“It was our dream to build and help secure the private practice in the community and better serve the community,” said Dr. Lonnie Alexander, a center obstetrician and gynecologist.

He and seven other Plains Regional Medical Center surgeons made the investment to fund the $14 million surgery facility, which sprawls across 13,000 square feet in west Clovis, according to center officials.

“The doctors are really excited about giving their patients another option,” Center Administrator Casey McFarland said.

The surgeons will continue to perform surgeries at PRMC, surgery center officials said.

“The hospital is still vital to the success of our community,” Center Materials Manager Thomas LaPlant said.

Currently, only outpatient surgery is offered at the surgery center, but officials hope to provide extended stays for patients, McFarland said.

Another goal is to generate $10 million in revenue in their first year of operation, McFarland said.
Eight surgeons, seven nurses and two operating room technicians practice at the center, according to McFarland. Area physicians will have surgical staff privileges at the facility, according to a center press release.

Eye, orthopedic, gynecological, general, podiatric and breast surgeries can be performed at the center.

“There’s more and more encroachment into medicine by insurance companies, and it’s more and more difficult to recruit to young physicians to rural communities,” said Alexander, who has practiced in Clovis and Portales since 1985.

“Our hope is (the center) will help us attract and retain physicians in the community,” he said.

Surgery centers are on the rise across the nation, according to McFarland. The trend is a result of new surgical technology and the corresponding ability to offer more outpatient procedures, she said.

“A patient doesn’t want to spend a lot of time in a hospital,” said McFarland, who managed an HMO in Albuquerque prior to accepting the job at the center.

McFarland said the facility’s Medicare licensure is expected to be secured and accreditation received within the next two weeks.

The center will serve about 100,000 people in eastern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle, officials said.