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Johns Hopkins Orthopaedic Surgery - Meet Department Director James Ficke

Johns Hopkins Orthopaedic Surgery Winter 2014

Meet Department Director James Ficke

Date: February 3, 2014

Known for his work in trauma and for his ability to foster collaboration, James Ficke brings a unique perspective to his new role at Johns Hopkins.
Known for his work in trauma and for his ability to foster collaboration, James Ficke brings a unique perspective to his new role at Johns Hopkins.

As deputy commander of clinical services at the 228th Combat Support Hospital in Mosul, Iraq, from 2004 to 2005, Colonel James Ficke was the senior orthopaedic surgeon, treating more than 600 U.S. soldiers and Iraqi patients for war injuries. He supervised 15 physicians and managed 19 mass casualty incidents resulting in 1,600 trauma resuscitations—82 percent of which were musculoskeletal injuries.

“The volume was enormous,” says Ficke, the new director of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and orthopaedic surgeon-in-chief of The Johns Hopkins Hospital. “We managed a volume higher than most Level 1 trauma centers and saw mostly blast and penetrating-type injuries. It changed who I was. I saw humans at their best, but also a war in which humans were at their worst.”

A nationally renowned expert on the treatment of complex foot and ankle injuries, lower-extremity trauma and amputation, Ficke adds new expertise, including the specialty of limb salvage, to the department. “The first patient I saw here,” he says, “faced whether to keep her limb or go with a full amputation, something she has not elected to do. We can help restore function to devastating limb injuries.”

A 1983 West Point graduate who received his medical degree at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences’ F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine in 1987, Ficke was most recently chairman of the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation at the San Antonio Military Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in Texas, as well as the orthopaedic surgery consultant to the U.S. Army Surgeon General at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. In this position, he ensured exceptional care in this specialty at Army health centers across the country.

Ficke now leads a department focused on adapting to change. First up, he says, is access, which in super-subspecialties may be as long as two months.

“Our goal is to create same-day access within our major clinics that are staffed by orthopaedic surgeons, specialized physician assistants and nurse practitioners who are exceptional in the care of musculoskeletal injuries and conditions,” says Ficke. “The orthopaedic surgeons provide oversight and enable us to send patients quickly to the right clinics and the right specialists. We’ll have the most customized referral process available. Our goal is to roll this out within the next six months.”

His team looks forward to working closely with other Johns Hopkins specialists, including those in physical medicine and rehabilitation, and plastic and reconstructive surgery. “A multidisciplinary team,” he says, “is often the best answer to serve our patients.”

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