Q&A with Dr. Justin Cummins

Memorial Medical Center is excited to announce that starting this September, expanded orthopedic services will be available in the Ashland area. Leading the new orthopedic services team of MMC will be Dr. Justin Cummins and Dr. Joseph Signorelli. Here, Dr. Justin Cummins shares a bit more about what patients of orthopedic services of MMC in Ashland can expect.

Dr. Justin Cummins

What do you think patient’s largest piece of misinformation is around Orthopedics?
I think a lot of patients believe treatment in orthopedics is black and white. A lot of times with joint replacements, that isn’t the case. Instead it is more of a shared decision-making process. This means we talk about how the ailment is affecting the patient and then we go over the options and the risks and benefits of each option. Only then do we make a decision together and we make it together. I don’t tell the patient what they need to do. Instead, I have a discussion with them and then we decide together on what the best choice is.

Sometimes the options are limited– if for example you break your femur, there is one choice to fix it – but we will still take the time to talk about it so you understand and are ok with the entire process. I think this notion of shared decision-making and being a participant in the process is the greatest opportunity for patients to have a positive experience and great outcomes.

What type of questions should patients ask when they visit an orthopedic specialist?
First and foremost, patients should always ask about their options and other alternatives for treatment.

Second, a patient should always ask a surgeon specifically, how often have you done this procedure. We see, especially in orthopedics, a lot of evidence that outcomes are tied to the volume of procedures you are doing. If you are doing higher volumes of a certain procedure, the outcomes tend to be better.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask about outcomes. The only way to get better is to track how your patients are doing. Surgeons that don’t know the answer or are unwilling to share how their patients do post surgery should raise some questions or skepticism on your part.

Why did you choose Ashland to practice?
I’ve enjoyed practicing in Duluth but given where I’m at in my career, I’m ready to transition to a practice where I can get to know my patients better and experience the more personal side of patient care which you don’t always get in a busy practice.

I’ve spent the past 9-years doing things in high volume, really building my skills. I’m very proficient in performing procedures but for me at this point in my career, I’m ready to deliver more personalized care that focuses more on individual patients needs while still reaching strong outcomes.

What’s your favorite type of surgery?
I’m fellowship trained in sports medicine, which includes a lot of arthroscopic surgery. Of this, what I really love most is shoulder and knee, followed by hip arthroscopy. This is where I’ve focused my practice for the past 8-years. But, if I had to choose one thing, ACL reconstruction is something I really enjoy and have done hundreds of over the years. In Duluth, I did a number of many of the NCAA Division II athletes’ complex knee ligaments and then everything related to shoulders. It was nice to have that type of exposure in Duluth that allowed me to become proficient in multiple procedures. I’m looking forward to bringing that expertise to northwest Wisconsin.

If you could give your patients advice on how to live healthier, what would you tell them?
Be active. Find ways to work physical activity into your everyday schedule. This is something I’m constantly working on and trying to reinforce with my family on a daily basis. Second, stop smoking. Or, don’t start. These two changes can make a major impact in your long-term overall health.

Continue learning more about Orthopedic Services of MMC here.