OrthoLA celebrates 15 years of providing specialized care

Published 10:34 am Wednesday, September 14, 2022


LAPLACE — When Dr. Jason Higgins and Dr. David Elias hung their shingle in Thibodaux in the fall of 2007, they marked the beginning of a business that would grow to provide specialized orthopaedic care to communities across Southeast Louisiana, including the River Parishes.

OrthoLA’s team of board-certified, fellowship-trained physicians treat conditions affecting the hand, wrist, elbow, knee, shoulder, hip, ankle and foot. Celebrating 15 years in business, the company now has office locations in LaPlace, Lutcher, Thibodaux, Houma, Franklin and Raceland.

“The plan was to bring specialized orthopaedic care to people where they are,” said company spokesperson Ann Miller. “They wanted to help people in their communities and prevent them from having to drive to New Orleans or Baton Rouge.”

The seeds for OrthoLA were planted years earlier, when Higgins and Elias attended LSU with Dr. Patrick Ellender and Dr. John Hildenbrand.

Having both specialized in sports medicine, Higgins and Elias originally opened OrthoLA under the name Orthopaedic Sports Specialists of Louisiana. Ellender joined them a couple of years later, also specializing in sports medicine. Hildenbrand, trained in upper extremities, joined the practice soon after, and a rebranding took place along with a name change to reflect all of the services the business was now able to offer.

Over the years, Dr. William Johnson, Dr. Eric Greber, Dr. Allen Borne and Dr. Keith Duplantis have also joined the practice. While services may vary slightly by clinic location, OrthoLA is now equipped to offer sports medicine, hand and upper extremity care, joint replacement and reconstruction, physical/occupational therapy, surgeries, digital x-rays, and fracture care/casting/DME within a seven-parish region.

OrthoLA physicians have cared for countless injured workers, high school athletes, middle aged weekend warriors, and individuals enduring chronic conditions. Doctors can treat patients of all ages, including young children.

Patients in LaPlace and Lutcher may be familiar with Dr. Johnson, Dr. Hildenbrand and Dr. Duplantis. Johnson in particular served the River Parishes for more than 20 years prior to joining the OrthoLA team in 2018.

According to Miller, there is an interesting dynamic in the River Parishes where some residents prefer to stick to their local offices, while others enjoy taking the ride to the clinic in Thibodaux.

“Sometimes, especially after Ida, we saw that people wanted a reason to get out of town,” Miller said. “It’s really interesting because we originally didn’t have an office in the River Parishes, but our doctors have still provided care for the patients who live there for years.”

During OrthoLA’s early years, Dr. Elias and Dr. Higgins could often be found providing medical care on the sidelines during St. James, Riverside Academy, Lutcher and West St. John football games. Today, Dr. Johnson serves at the medical doctor for Destrehan High School’s football team.

While physical therapy/occupational therapy services are limited to the Thibodaux location, Miller said physicians in the surrounding offices work with local physical therapists, occupational therapists and home health providers to give patients a voice in decisions on their aftercare.

Miller also pointed out that visiting an orthopaedic surgeon does not automatically mean an individual will require surgery.

“Our doctors are very conservative in trying to use non-surgical methods as initial treatments. If they can use medications, injections, physical therapy, or other means of treatment that are less invasive that can help them recover or buy them some time, certainly that’s what they are going to recommend first, regardless of the body part,” Miller said.

As specialized as the physicians are, they are also very down to earth and try to get to know their patients on a personal level.

One patient who has seen Dr. Johnson for many years wrote, “He’s always knowledgeable, caring, patient and kind. He has done all our family’s surgeries with success. We moved to New Orleans and my husband and I still drive to see him. That says we trust and love him to take care of our aging needs.”

Miller often hears feedback that patients feel “at home” or like they are “part of the family.”

“People’s lives are changed significantly,” Miller said. “A lot of times when people visit our clinic, they’ve put it off until they just can’t take the pain anymore. They aren’t able to live the way they want to live or do the things they want to do. To be able to see someone progress to the point where they get their life back is an amazing process to be a part of.”

Caring for patients beyond the exam room, OrthoLA partnered with several restaurants in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida to provide food for survivors in different communities, including LaPlace.

The OrthoLA team also stays involved in the region as active members of several Chambers of Commerce.

“Small businesses are certainly the backbone of every community, so we feel that the more active we are in the Chambers of Commerce, the more we benefit the community, and the more that benefits our patients,” Miller said.

For more information about OrthoLA, visit ortho-la.com.