Published on January 20, 2022

The evolution of the Lawrence Surgery Center

Just over two decades ago, a group of surgeons realized there was a need for an outpatient surgery center in Lawrence. At the time, we were only one of a few towns of our size in the area without a center like this.

“Outpatient surgery centers began popping up everywhere,” said Scott Thellman, MD, a physician with Lawrence Plastic Surgery. “These surgery centers were offering a lower cost option to hospital operating rooms and were designed specifically for outpatient services. The hospital operating rooms were very busy and were having trouble meeting the growing needs of our community. Adding a surgery center would help relieve some of the overcrowding.”

So, what is a surgery center and how is it different from a hospital? A hospital is staffed and equipped to treat all types of medical problems. In contrast, the Lawrence Surgery Center is designed exclusively to perform outpatient surgery. Its easy access, warm surroundings and specialized focus often minimize the stress associated with surgery. LMH Health is proud to be one of many investors in the center.

“When we began looking at ways to organize the surgery center, we looked to other facilities to see how they were structured,” Dr. Thellman said. “Ultimately, we felt the best option was to partner with Lawrence Memorial Hospital (now LMH Health) in an ownership and governance model and we could not be more pleased that we did. The center opened in the early 2000s and we have continued to have a strong partnership where local surgeons and LMH work together. This close alliance has been essential to helping the surgery center thrive.

Dr. Thellman said over the years things have changed, as the hospital has added more operating rooms and the surgery center continues to stay busy. It came to a point where the center was outgrowing its space at the 6th and Maine Street location and something needed to change.

Are you a candidate?

Wondering if you would be a good candidate for an outpatient surgery at the Lawrence Surgery Center? Consult with your doctor today. The following clinics see patients out at the West Campus for surgeries:

Lawrence Breast Specialists, Lawrence Podiatry Center, LMH Health General Surgery, Sunflower Pediatrics Eye Care and Strabismus (SPECS), Lawrence Plastic Surgery, Pelvic Health Specialists, Plastics Surgery Specialists of Lawrence, OrthoKansas, Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates, Lawrence Anesthesia PA and Lawrence OB-GYN Specialists.

For more information on which providers perform surgeries at the surgery center from these clinics, give the center a call today at (785) 832-0588 or visit the link below.

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“After serving patients for about 20 years at 6th and Maine, the Lawrence Surgery Center needed room to grow,” said Jared Abel, vice president of strategy & clinic operations at LMH Health. “The first conversations we had about building a facility in West Lawrence were because of this whole idea of having a larger, more comprehensive and technologically advanced surgery center.”

Abel said the reason the center moved to the LMH Health West Campus was in part to create a comprehensive ambulatory campus where there was the option to add specialties and do more of what the center already offered.

“The conversations for West first started in 2015. After some restructuring in 2017, talks continued and the surgery center at the West Campus successfully opened in late 2020.” Dr. Thellman said. “Of course, we could have never anticipated COVID when we were planning all this, but I am extremely proud of the surgery center team for all we have been able to do despite the headwinds of COVID.”

At the new center, Dr. Thellman said the team was able to do as they had planned and add new surgeons and new services for the Lawrence community, even amidst the height of COVID.

“Not only did we open the center, we added new equipment, procedures, surgeons, operating rooms, staff and entire service lines like total joint replacement and breast cancer surgery at a time when staffing and supply shortages were widespread,” he said. “Here we are, a year and a few months later and I can say that the team at the center has done the amazing work. The old center was fine and we were able to care for many patients, but we outgrew it. We now have more space, better equipment and room to grow in the future. It’s not easy to look ahead in healthcare, but I’m excited to see how we’ve evolved and grown and am confident we’re well positioned for the future.

Dr. Thellman said watching the surgery center and its reputation grow and become a place friends and family recommend for surgery has been incredible.

Though the team has maintained a loyal group of members over the years, some who remain with the surgery center since its beginning, they’ve been fortunate to add and bring in new surgeons. In 2020, Jennifer Hawasli, MD, a breast surgeon with Lawrence Breast Specialists, joined the team.

“Coming on board and joining the Lawrence Surgery Center was amazing,” Dr. Hawasli said. “It is hard not to love coming into a brand new, state-of-the-art facility. When you open a center, you get the latest in technology, new equipment and you get to offer this to your patients, which is incredible. But above all, one of my favorite things about the center is how convenient it is for patients. Having so many related specialties under one roof and quite literally right down the hall, allows for patients to not spend the time going back and forth from facility to facility, but rather have all their needs taken care of right there.”

One big difference between the surgery center and the hospital is that there is no emergency department. Since there is no designated emergency department, this allows the surgeons at the center to be able to work more efficiently because the schedule is not delayed due to the life or death emergencies that often come into the hospital.

“Though there is no emergency department, from time to time we can take cases on a semi-urgent basis when needed,” Dr. Hawasli said. “If it is a case that can be taken care of the same day, we try to work with those patients.”

Dr. Hawasli enjoys the diversity of cases that can be seen at the West Campus as well, such as breast surgery, general surgery, orthopedics, ENT (ear, nose and throat), plastic surgery, gynecology and more. Because of this, she has the opportunity to collaborate with other surgeons.

LMH Health West Campus

LMH Health West Campus

“I can provide the surgery needed for my patient and do a mastectomy, but then also can collaborate with plastic surgery on their reconstruction,” she said. “We have all the tools and equipment needed to perform many levels of surgeries and being able to collaborate to give the best care possible is a great thing. We can provide a warm handoff and also, having everything under one roof, at one waiting room and check-in area, give the patient peace of mind that they won’t get lost. They are familiar with the area and know where to go.”

Another aspect of the surgery center Dr. Hawasli likes is that it is smaller. If there is something the team members of the surgery center see as a big need for the Lawrence community in terms of equipment, more often than not they can get it for their patients.

“If there is a new piece of technology that will improve patient care, we can often get what we need to care best for patients,” she said. “The Lawrence Surgery Center is an incredible option for patients for convenient surgical services. We continue to grow and improve our patient experience in a beautiful new center.”


Jessica BrewerStory by Jessica Thomas

Jessica is the Social Media & Digital Communications Specialist at LMH Health.


The evolution of the Lawrence Surgery Center

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