Orthopedic surgeon to hold office hours at Ridgeway Health in Sweet Home

By Scott Swanson

Sweet Home is about to get up-close-and-personal access to an orthopedic surgeon.

Dr. Donald Pennington, formerly head orthopedic surgeon for Oregon State University, has agreed to hold office hours twice a month at Ridgeway Health, which has been offering urgent care at 1023 Main St. since last fall.

Pennington said he “did an outreach” to Ridgeway founder and owner Dr. Sam Milstein about the possibility of extending his practice into Sweet Home.

“We just let him know where we were,” he said, “that we are willing to help him with his orthopedic patients and stuff, and he latched on to us and said, ‘Hey, I’ve got this opportunity to come out here and help people in Sweet Home.'”

He recognizes that Sweet Home is “somewhat underserved in the area of orthopedics.”

He has practiced in the area, starting with Samaritan Health in Lebanon, since 2005, moving to Corvallis where he served as team physician, still with Samaritan, for the Beavers for the past 15 years.

Pennington decided last year to enter “private practice,” and joined the Upper Hand Orthopaedics group in Corvallis.

A graduate of Brigham Young University, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees, he moved on to Western University of Health in Pomona, Calif., the mother school of COMP-Northwest in Lebanon, where he earned his osteopathic medical degree. Then he did a residency at Botsford General Hospital at Michigan State University, followed by a sports medicine fellowship at the University of Arizona. He has been a team orthopedist for the Colorado Rockies, Chicago White Sox and the University of Arizona.

Pennington specializes in “minimally invasive” treatment of shoulder and knee injuries, with particular interests in cartilage restoration and repair, and platelet-rich plasma for faster healing and quicker recovery.

He and his wife have three sons. His interests include mountain biking and restoring cars.

Pennington said that in some 20 years in the mid-Willamette Valley, he’s become aware of needs in the area.

“They’re somewhat underserved in the area of orthopedics,” he said of Sweet Home’s population. “We’ve seen that. It just fits into our model, fits into what we like to do and it seems like a win-win for us to come out here.”

Doctors Sam Milstein, left, and Daniel Pennington discuss how they plan to use the facilities at Ridgeway to accomodate Pennington’s orthopedics practice in Sweet Home, as nurse Chris Emmons listens.

Initially, Pennington said, he and his longtime nurse, Chris Emmons, and Physician Assistant Dan Stanger will visit twice a month, currently the second and fourth Tuesdays, “just to get going and see what that’s like.”

“We don’t know what the volume’s like and what the need is.”

He has had numerous patients from Sweet Home in Corvallis.

Pennington and Milstein said referrals for orthopedic won’t be necessary for many patients, depending on their insurers’ requirements. Unless a patient is insured by a coordinated care organization, they have an open card and can see any provider, according to state law.

“The insurance that they have will go anywhere,” Pennington said of most patients.

“Oregon is an open-access state,” Milstein said.

He and Pennington said one of the goals is to provide immediate access to medical care, rather than keeping patients waiting sometimes for months to see a doctor, particularly a specialist.

“If you’re a new patient, just to see a primary care doctor, it’s a three-month wait,” he said, noting that’s the case with large-area medical providers. “Yeah, I mean, at least three.”

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Donald Pennington, center, with Ridgeway Health owner Dr. Sam Milstein and longtime nurse Chris Emmons, has announced he has extended his practice to Sweet Home.

He said Ridgeway is in the process of procuring and installing X-ray equipment and has other services in the pipeline.

Pennington said one of Ridgeway’s biggest attractions is that its facility is spacious, with room for new practitioners.

“The nice thing about this space is its space,” he said, gesturing toward the large waiting area that, Milstein said, one day may be turned into treatment rooms.

“I don’t know Sam well,” Pennington continued, “but it sounds like he’s very interested in meeting the needs of the community. So there’s imaging needs of the community. Look at this space. It can grow and expand and be fairly dynamic to meet the needs.

“That’s what attracted me to this operation. Because Sam is here, it seems like this whole clinic is to meet the needs of the community.”

He said patients interested in setting up care should contact Ridgeway at (541) 255-1234.