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Franklin County imports three Norwegian orthopedic doctors

April 16, 2005|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, PA. -For the first time in a long time, Waynesboro has two full-time orthopedic surgeons.

Working in a new building across Pa. 16 from Waynesboro Hospital, Dr. Stein Sletten and Dr. Henrik Hofgaard provide a range of orthopedic services.

Along with Drs. Roger Robertson, Anthony Bruno and Arne Tysland, they comprise Cumberland Valley Orthopedic Associates. Robertson, Bruno and Tysland practice in Chambersburg, Pa.

Ken Shur, chief operating officer of Waynesboro Hospital, said there had been "a widespread lack of orthopedic coverage in Franklin County, particularly in Waynesboro. We had been without a full-time Waynesboro-based orthopedic surgeon for many years."

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Summit Health recruited Sletten, Hofgaard and Tysland from Norway.

Hofgaard, 49, has been practicing in Waynesboro since July. Sletten, 43, of Waynesboro, has been here for a year. Both entered the country on commerce visas.

The doctors brought their families with them, and their children attend local schools.

Language has not been much of a problem.

"All Norwegians learn English from their first day of school," Hofgaard said.

Sletten added that "for precise detail," they speak Norwegian to each other, but in general try to avoid it.

The pair, who worked together on and off for about 12 years in Oslo, focus on shoulder, knee and hip surgery, and also do some elbow and ankle work.

Hofgaard, of Greencastle, Pa., said he and Sletten are "well-versed in production surgery, we're used to large numbers." They perform shoulder and knee arthroscopy and total knee, hip and shoulder replacements.

"The field is continually evolving," he said. "We adopt new procedures as they are proven."

"We use well-proven implants," Sletten said. "In Scandinavian countries, for 20 years there has been a registry of implants; we know which ones produce the best results. In the U.S., it's hard to follow up. People tend to move a lot."

Norway, which has a population of 4.5 million, has 45,000 implants in its registry. They have a 90 percent follow-up rate.

"When you implant something, it may take a long time to realize it's faulty," Sletten said.

Hofgaard said he loves the climate here and enjoys the friendly people.

"People here appreciate you taking time, they appreciate your efforts," he said. "I have not had one unpleasant patient. That makes it a satisfying experience."

"We were used to Oslo, a city of 500,000 people," Sletten said. "There were high-demand patients."

Many local patients research their conditions on the Internet and are well-informed, Hofgaard said.

"This is a positive challenge," he said.

Examinations, X-rays and casting are done in the office.

"We have an ideal location," Hofgaard said. "We enjoy the distance, rather than being in the hospital. The interface works beautifully."

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