Almost 40 years ago, the founders of Bay Street Orthopaedics, a Northern Michigan healthcare provider, recognized that one of the most attractive aspects of living and working in Northern Michigan is the active lifestyle it affords. Northerners love their outdoor activities.

But all that activity can come with a caveat: We are more prone to injury, especially in our later years. That means we need access to the same top-quality medical resources that are available in more densely populated areas.

That need was what drove two orthopedic surgeons, Dr. Loyal Jodar and Dr. Ross Hume, to start a private practice in 1975 in downtown Petoskey. At that time, their beautiful town overlooking Little Traverse Bay still lacked some of the medical care options available in more sizable towns like Traverse City, some 90 minutes away. With its location right in downtown Petoskey, Bay Street Orthopaedics could offer a full range of orthopedic surgery services to people living in the region, while reducing their patients’ commute time to access those services.

Over the years, Bay Street Orthopaedics has grown to add more physicians and additional offices, and at present the practice is home to seven orthopedic surgeons and a total of 40 support personnel working at three permanent locations (in Charlevoix, Petoskey and Cheboygan) and three satellite locations (in St. Ignace, Rogers City and Gaylord).

“This area has the same types of demands as larger cities do, like Detroit or Grand Rapids,” says Jim Connaughton, Bay Street Orthopaedics’ CEO. “The resources need to be here as well.”

Still, Bay Street Orthopaedics Surgeries are performed at the three “fixed” locations, while the satellite locations are open two days a week for diagnoses and post-op visits. Access to all these locations cuts down on driving for patients—and is a big relief particularly for people living in the Upper Peninsula, who no longer have to drive across the Mackinac Bridge for follow-ups.

With so many locations across Northern Lower Michigan and the Eastern Upper Peninsula, Bay Street sees thousands of patients each year for everything from sprained ankles to hip fractures to knee replacements. The practice prides itself on having a top-notch medical staff, which includes a foot and ankle specialist and a hand and wrist specialist.

“We have exceptionally well-educated physicians that make their patients’ care, safety and well-being their utmost priority,” says Connaughton. Just as noteworthy, though, is the fact that the practice has very little turnover—most of the Bay Street docs have been with the group for at least two decades.

This kind of dependability allows the physicians to foster longstanding relationships with patients, which translates to better, more thorough care. Part of what keeps Bay Street’s doctors rooted in the Little Traverse Bay region is all the area has to offer. “It’s the lifestyle that often attracts a physician to move here,” Connaughton says.

“It’s not monetary. It’s about community, it’s about family, and our natural resources are second to none.”

While the practice may be rooted in an area with a slower pace of life, Bay Street’s team still places a priority on staying on top of advances in medical technology and treatments. “The physicians will watch new procedures and equipment to see how trials are going, taking note of patient response or recovery times, how safe a new procedure is, things like that,”

Connaughton says. “They’ll weigh all that before they decide to participate in either a new procedure or bring in a new piece of equipment. But this isn’t an experimental practice by any means; we will only perform procedures that are proven.”

As Bay Street Orthopaedics has grown over the years, the Petoskey area has also been growing and changing, too. There are more people in the region now, and more services to meet those people’s demands. But even with the changes, the region still retains the small-town feel that attracted Bay Street’s founding physicians here in the first place. It’s a characteristic that, nearly 40 years later, still makes doing business a pleasure, Connaughton says. “Even as this area has grown, it’s still the size where you still know most everyone that you’re working with,” he says.

“When you need something, it’s always a warm referral or a warm handoff. It’s the handshake and the spoken word. That’s one of the advantages of being up here.”

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