New Yorker of the Week: Dr. Alejandro Badia, wearing many hats in orthopedics

Dr. Alejandro Badia

By his own admission, Dr. Alejandro Badia wears “many hats.”

Badia is a hand and upper extremity surgeon, author and healthcare entrepreneur with offices in Miami, Florida and Midtown Manhattan.

But, after training in orthopedics and getting his medical degree at NYU and then spending a decade at Bellevue Hospital Center in NYC, he says “I’m really a New Yorker at heart,” adding “I’m doing the opposite of what most people do by slowly drifting back to New York,” he says. “I love the city.”

Asked how he decided on medicine as a career, Badia, a Cuban immigrant, related a story of his grandmother who had very bad rheumatoid arthritis and they went to see a hand surgeon at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.

“I went with her to see the doctor. We talked about having a procedure to replace joints in her hand,” Badia said. “She never had it done as it was considered experimental surgery at the time, and that stuck with me.” 

The hand surgeon, Dr. Bob Carrol would later train Dr. Joseph Imbriglia, who would train Dr. Badia in Pittsburgh decades later.

In addition, he says he had lots of family members back in Cuba who were also physicians. “It was always kind of in my blood.”

Badia, who created the Badia Hand to Shoulder Center in 2008 after previously co-founding the Miami Hand Center and Surgery Center at Doral, recently opened an office in Midtown Manhattan. He says he plans to split time between both offices once he has a steady flow of patients in NYC.

Some of the most common issues Badia treats in the shoulders, wrists, elbows, and hands include carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff problems and tennis elbow.

“Often, these are not so much injuries but more ‘life problems,’ that just develop with age,” he says. But he says it’s vitally important to see the right specialist to prevent further damage or just catch things in their early stages.

This led Badia to likely his most important accomplishment, the launch in 2010 of OrthoNOW®, the first immediate orthopedic care center in south Florida, which was later franchised and can now be licensed to orthopedic colleagues and healthcare systems and is currently seeking a strategic, national healthcare partner.

“OrthoNow is similar to an urgent care center, only it specializes in orthopedic issues,” he says. “When you go to a general doctor with some type of orthopedic issue, many times they just don’t know how to best treat you because they’re not specialists,” he says.

“We want to disrupt this industry and treat musculoskeletal issues as our specialty…we want to take this brand national.”

Badia says that OrthoNow has three locations in FL that are “working very well,” despite resistance on the part of some insurance companies that are still hard-wired to send patients to a primary care doctor first, and then to a specialist.

“I have many stories about how insurance companies have been reluctant to embrace the OrthoNow concept, even though the quality of care is much better and more efficient since musculoskeletal specialists are seeing people directly, without the intermediate referral from a busy primary care provider or general urgent care center.” 

After the pandemic, patients were also more reluctant to go to the hospital and the specialized, outpatient model gained further traction out of necessity.

This frustration with the healthcare industry was instrumental in Badia’s book, “Healthcare from the Trenches,” written during the COVID-19 pandemic, about the “quagmire” that exists now regarding healthcare delivery in the U.S.

The book covers Badia’s history as a Cuban immigrant in the U.S. in addition to government, insurance companies, malpractice, and healthcare systems. It also mentions potential solutions.

“I want the reader to understand what the average physician goes through in terms of training,” he said.

Badia, who says he initially went to Miami so he “could use his Spanish,” emphasizes that he’s still a “New Yorker” at heart.

“I don’t believe in being aloof or putting things off…the best time to do anything is now,” he says. 

Commenting on work ethic, Badia says “It’s how you do your job and how you treat other people that matters,” relating a story about a custodian at NYU Medical School he admired for having such a strong work ethic. “I try to teach my kids to also have a strong work ethic and treat others well.”

And Badia also believes in giving back through periodic medical mission trips. He recalled that in Late March 2017, “I was humbled to share in the experience of co-leading a surgical team to Koforidua, Inner Ghana, West Africa.” The mission helped to restore hand/upper limb function in underserved countries.

Having come full circle, Badia is interested in bringing his often unique perspective to hand and upper limb care to the Big Apple due to having lectured in over 50 countries and all 7 continents. 

To make an appointment with Dr. Badia please call (305)570-3434 email-alejandro@drbadia.com or visit https://www.drbadia.com/profile/hand-surgeon-wrist-dr-alejandro-badia/