Thursday, March 18, 2010

Health Care Hero Finalist: Harpal Khanuja, M.D.

The Maryland Daily Record's Health Care Heroes awards ceremony honors special caregivers who exemplify extraordinary commitment to their profession. The breakfast to honor the 2010 finalists is on Wednesday, March 24, but before the big day we wanted to use this space to profile the nominees.

Arthritis and other bone and joint conditions can often be debilitating, even with proper medical attention. Now imagine if you had no access to proper medical or surgical care. These conditions can quickly develop into a situation where common tasks become impossible.

Harpal Khanuja, M.D., orthopedic surgeon at the Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopedics at Sinai Hospital, gives patients in the developing world hope. Since 2006, Dr. Khanuja and his Operation Walk Maryland teams have been traveling to developing countries to provide free surgical and orthopedic care.

A national organization, Operation Walk was founded in 1994 by Lawrence D. Dorr, M.D. Operation Walk surgeons, nurses and health professionals have operated on more than 3,000 patients in Russia, Cuba, Nepal, China, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Mexico, El Salvador and the United States.

Operation Walk Maryland was founded by Dr. Khanuja and his wife Maria to improve the quality of life for disadvantaged patients across the globe who suffer from joint disease. Operation Walk Maryland provides free joint replacement surgery and care to impoverished individuals in need; all the care is free to the country and the individual.

Operation Walk Maryland raises over $100,000 a year. It has arranged donations and provided free care and supplies. In addition, Operation Walk Maryland educates local orthopedic surgeons and their health care teams about the current treatment and technologies available to treat individuals with debilitating joint disease.

Dr. Khanuja views Operation Walk as the most rewarding aspect of his career. He points out that not only is the team composed of the best trained providers in the United States, but the team members are also true ambassadors from Maryland to many parts of the world.

Dr. Khanuja's daily work as a surgeon at the Center for Joint Preservation and Replacement at Sinai Hospital is also a source of great pride. The center is composed of health care professionals with specialized training and expertise in all aspects of orthopedics and joint reconstruction surgery. Dr. Khanuja is a part of an interdisciplinary treatment team that includes orthopedic surgeons, physiatrists, anesthesiologists and pain management specialists, physician assistants, nurses, nurse practitioners, physical and occupational therapists, social workers, case managers, surgical and orthopedic technologists, radiology technologists, administrators, secretaries, referral and financial coordinators, and other support staff.

Dr. Khanuja also is a researcher, developing and improving methods of joint preservation and replacement. Through the Center for Joint Preservation and Replacement and the internationally attended Hip Joint course, Dr. Khanuja provides education to orthopedic surgeons and health care professionals to observe and study hip resurfacing and reconstruction methods.

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