Friday, July 20 , 2018, 11:45 pm | Fair 65º


Orthopedic Surgeon Rick Ryu Remains on Cutting Edge for Joint Ventures

New clinic provides doctor and his colleagues state-of-the-art diagnostics, technology

Dr. Rick Ryu grew up playing soccer and went to school to study writing. While his career path changed, his passion for soccer remained.

“I went to college to be a screen writer and pro soccer player, but a lack of talent in both areas led to something else,” Ryu joked.

The path led to sports medicine, and after earning a biology degree from Yale University, Ryu went on to medical school. He completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at UC San Francisco, which was followed by a fellowship in sports medicine and arthroscopy at Los Angeles’ renowned Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic, where Ryu helped provide care for the Los Angeles RamsLakers, Dodgers and Kings.

Ryu established his private practice nearly 25 years ago in Santa Barbara, specializing in arthroscopic and reconstructive knee and shoulder surgery. Dr Graham Hurvitz joined him nearly a decade ago, adding adult reconstructive and total joint replacement expertise to the practice. The Ryu Hurvitz Orthopedic Clinic was established, and the clinic’s newest partner, Dr. William H. Dunbar V, joined the group last year. Dunbar, a Santa Barbara native, has expertise in complex orthopedic trauma, knee surgery and hip arthroscopy.

Ryu and his two colleagues volunteer medical care and sports medicine coverage for athletes at Bishop Diego, Cate and Santa Barbara High schools, as well as UCSBWestmont and the Santa Barbara Foresters.

In keeping with his love of soccer, Ryu’s practice has also allowed him to travel with the U.S. Men’s National soccer team and the likes of Landon Donovan, Tim Howard and Cobi Jones.

“When we went to Saudi Arabi and played at King Fahad International Stadium, it was spotless,” he recalled. “It was the most amazing sight watching the native costumes billowing in the wind. It was like a sea of people waving flags nonstop.”

The locals weren’t too happy when the U.S. team beat the Saudi squad, 2-0, Ryu added. Another career highlight for Ryu was being on the sidelines when the UCSB men’s soccer team won the 2006 NCAA national title, followed by a trip to the White House.

Ryu has just finished serving as president of the Arthroscopy Association of North America, one of the largest sub-specialty groups in orthopedics. He also continues to teach and publish, and recently completed work as series editor for a five-volume advanced arthroscopy textbook.

The Ryu Huvitz Orthopedic Clinic just moved into a 4,000-square-foot location at 2936 De la Vina St. With the transition, the clinic has incorporated the latest refinements into the practice, including digital X-ray technology that facilitates access and storage for patients and their records. The move also puts the clinic in closer proximity to the Summit and Premier surgery centers, where the three physicians perform outpatient procedures.

“Santa Barbara is a very articulate and well-informed community,” Ryu said. “Patients are anxious to experience the ‘latest and greatest’ in medical care.

“It’s incumbent upon us as physicians to stay at the front of the technology and learning curve by utilizing the best innovations in technology and patient care.”

When discussing universal health care (also known as single-payer), Ryu recognized some benefits but argued that a single-payer system would not include the immediate care to which people are accustomed.

“For most Americans, who don’t want and will not tolerate delays in treatment, the single-payer system will be a wake-up call,” he said. “There will be a long wait to be treated because that’s how the system works. The incentive is not to treat you expeditiously, it’s to save money by rationing resources.

“It will work with regard to cutting costs, but the downside will be the long waiting lists for elective procedures and treatment.”

Ryu pointed to Canada’s health-care system in which patients must sit on a waiting list for many procedures, tests or consultations.

“We have the best medical care in the world, as much as the pundits criticize it,” he said. “There can be an access problem because of the high cost of medicine, but that’s an unfortunate effect when offering the best health care and the most skilled physicians. Utilizing cutting-edge technology and innovations will always drive up costs.”

The benefits of universal health care would be controlling costs, affordability and making care more accessible, he said.

“There are difficult decisions ahead about the role of government: Is it going to take care of us like a social democracy, or do we control the health-care environment and ask government to fill a limited role?,” Ryu asked.

But when all is said and done, doctors need to act in accordance with the best interests of the patient, just as Ryu, Hurvitz and Dunbar say they strive to do with their practice.

“We should offer patients what we believe is the best care available for their condition,” Ryu said. “We should never cut corners nor offer anything that isn’t designed to maximize a patient’s care.”

Noozhawk staff writer Alex Kacik can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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