Dr. James Andrews, one of the premier orthopedic surgeons in the country, recalled that former Baptist Health Care president Al Stubblefield traveled to Birmingham, Ala., to meet with him in December 2003 about starting a sports medicine complex in the Pensacola area.
In April 2007, the 126,535-square-foot Andrews Institute opened in Gulf Breeze with an ambulatory surgery center, an athletic performance center, and a research and education center. The sports medicine giant celebrated its 10th anniversary Wednesday at its Andrews Athletic Performance & Research Pavilion.
“It’s been a magnificent journey for all of us,” Andrews recalled.
He joked that the key to creating the partnership was having American Olympic gymnast Blaine Wilson doing shoulder rehabilitation at his Birmingham center. Wilson was a gymnast from Ohio State and Baptist CFO Joe Felkner was an avid Buckeyes fan.
“It was a damn miracle,” Andrews said. “He always played the bad guy.”
It was all Felkner needed to approve the partnership. “That was really how we got our financing done,” Andrews said.
Andrews Institute celebrated its first 10 years that included performing more than 6,000 surgeries, providing athletic trainers to 25 public high schools from Escambia to Walton county and three area college, training more than 55 fellows under Andrews Institute physicians, and developing research at its Regenerative Medicine Center.
Not only did it look back at its achievements the sports medicine center looked forward to what the next 10 might bring to the institute.
One thing it is actively working on with the FDA is getting approval of using stem cells that may help cure patients injuries. It is seen as the biggest advance in sports medicine since arthroscopy surgery that allows physicians to make a small incision on a patient and using a tiny camera to repair knees, rotator cuffs and other sport injuries.
Dr. Adam Anz, an Andrews orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist, is heading a study that starts in May. He said stem cells are five to seven years away from being widely used to help the healing process, regenerate tissue, cartilage, organs and provide other medical uses. Anz said bone marrow typically produces about 17,000 stem cells, while140 million stem cells come from regenerative medicine’s variety of sources that include, embryos, gestational and adult tissues, and reprogrammed differentiated cells.
“We need to refine and prove that they work,” Anz said.