Dr. Kamaljeet Banga, MD, DNB, FRCSC, practiced orthopedics for 18 years, coming to Oswego Health’s Center for Orthopedic Care from Auburn Community Hospital. Dr. Michael Diaz, DO, practiced orthopedic care for 20 years at Bassett Healthcare’s Oneonta Surgeons and Specialists office before joining the team. Now both doctors, who knew from childhood they wanted to be doctors, share space at Oswego Health’s Center for Orthopedic Care.
Banga has two uncles who are doctors, and Diaz said he knew at age 6 it was his path.
During his orthopedics rotation in Canada, Banga, who now specializes in sports medicine, decided he loves the field. About a year ago while looking for a change, he learned another surgeon in the same specialty was leaving Oswego Health.
“The people are so welcoming and accepting,” Banga said. “I work close to home, and I really like the hospital administration. The timing was perfect.”
Diaz said he also is impressed with the administration.
“They are good business people, but they are refreshingly not all about the money,” Diaz said. “They are so positive and supportive, make sure we have everything we need and hire good, qualified people. My wife – an interior designer – even helped with the design.”
A couple of years ago when the kids were out of school, Diaz decided to transition out of a healthcare system that had grown far bigger than he cared to be part of. A headhunter called: Dr. Ayres was looking for someone at Oswego Health, would Diaz be interested?
“I said, ‘As a matter of fact…,’” Diaz said. “This was an opportunity to build the ideal practice and facility from the ground up.”
Now, like Banga, he’s minutes from work.
“It’s on the Great Lakes,” Diaz said. “I get to enjoy sitting on a bench and watching the sunsets, and it’s still close to my parents in New Jersey.”
Jamie Leszczynski, senior director of communications for Oswego Health, said the Center for Orthopedic Care opened in April 2019. She said Oswego Health has two locations: the new facility in Fulton and a smaller Oswego facility staffed by Dr. John Ayres and his team.
Banga and Diaz agreed there’s a misconception that surgeons immediately opt for surgery.
“We try all non-surgical options first,” Banga said. “After we’ve exhausted those, we discuss surgery. If a patient is managing their symptoms, we send them on their way.”
Both men said trust is essential in making a patient comfortable.
“People fear complications,” Banga said. “Nobody likes surgery. If they haven’t tried everything non-surgical, we do that before talking through surgical options.”
“We have a calming staff and atmosphere,” he said. “People sigh in relief when we don’t jump right into surgery, that we don’t see them as dollar signs.”
“If someone gets relief with an injection, we see in five or six months if they are doing well,” Banga said. “I think a lot of people believe if they visit a surgeon, they’ll be booked for surgery.”
“The Center is ideal in many ways,” Diaz said. “People don’t want to drive or take time off from work. Some people even walk to the clinic. It’s care close to home. The quality can’t be beat. You are near family in private rooms with low infection rates. It’s got a much more home-like vibe, not a factory conveyor belt. The doctors and nurses employed here are your neighbors.”
Banga said he specializes in child and adult trauma, arthritis, sports injuries, hand injuries, rotator cuff and total shoulder repair. He said most patients can be seen within a day or two.
Diaz, who tackles adult trauma injuries and total knee and hip replacements at Oswego Health’s Center for Orthopedic Care, also brought with him his NAVIO robotics expertise.
“At Bassett, I was tasked with becoming a pro with robotics,” Diaz said. “I was reluctant at first, but it’s proven to be the best system.”
Like DaVinci for general surgeries, NAVIO-assisted surgery offers speedier recovery times, reduced pain, less scarring and other benefits for many; however, many fewer are trained in NAVIO, Diaz said.
Diaz said his definition of success is two-pronged.
“My wife and kids are everything to me, and I always dreamed of being my sons’ Little League coach,” Diaz said. “I wasn’t going to be that doctor-dad who was never there. Providing good care is the other measure. Others may be cavalier with diagnoses, but I believe in performing absolutely no unnecessary surgery. I always do my best for the patient. If I don’t get the results I want, I take it very personally.”
“Patients go out and talk about this experience with their family and friends,” Banga said. “It’s better than any advertisement. It’s also a state-of-the-art center. It’s spacious and accommodating; we have all the diagnostic tools you could need here.”
In addition to CT, x-ray and MRI technologies, an urgent care is co-located, as well as other specialties and several primary care physicians.
“They can refer patients, and we’re right here ready to deliver excellent service – as good as any place,” he said. “Among us, there’s nothing we can’t do. We are a great team; if I’m not here, Dr. Diaz can see my patients and vice-versa. We cover each other.”
Diaz said when you aim for perfect, you get excellent; when you aim for excellent you get good; when you aim for good, you get fair.
“We aim for perfect,” Diaz said, “and I won’t do anything to a patient I wouldn’t recommend for my own parents.”
Diaz earned his doctor of osteopathic medicine from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. While at Bassett, Diaz performed about 250 joint replacement surgeries yearly. He serves as clinical assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Upstate Medical University and Columbia University Medical Center.
Banga earned his medical degree from Punjab University in Chandigarh, India. He completed fellowships in upper extremity and sports medicine and serves as clinical assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Upstate Medical University.
For more information on the Center or its surgeons,
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