Torg Is Taking His Sports-medicine Practice To Hahnemann The Eagles' Team Physician Is Leaving The Hospital Of The U. Of Pa. He Took A Parting Shot At The Medical School Dean.

Posted: December 30, 1994

Joseph Torg, the godfather of sports medicine in Philadelphia, as well as the Eagles' team physician, is taking his multimillion-dollar practice to Hahnemann University Hospital beginning Sunday.

The move revealed a bitter split over the direction of medical care at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where Torg has practiced for nearly 17 years.

Torg, 60, founded the sports-medicine program at Temple in 1970, then moved to HUP after seven years.

"My vision is to put together a regional, comprehensive sports medicine program utilizing all of Hahnemann's facilities," he said.

Awaiting Torg at Hahnemann is an 8,000-square-foot facility that will bear his name: Joseph Torg Center for Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma. Hahnemann also will establish four area satellite offices for sports medicine.

"Orthopedics is being emphasized as a major program throughout our health system, and Joe Torg gives us a world-class presence in sports medicine," said Dr. Arnold Berman, chairman of Hahnemann's orthopedic department, who recruited Torg. "We've never done a lot in this area or had the pizazz he brings."

With this move, Hahnemann will become the fourth hospital in which Torg has established a sports-medicine division under the larger umbrella of orthopedics. He did it first with Temple, then HUP, and, in 1993, at the Medical College of Pennsylvania.

The Medical College of Pennsylvania and Hahnemann are both part of Allegheny Health, Education and Research Foundation.

Torg estimated his sports-medicine practice at Penn generated $2 million in annual revenues, a figure he expects to double at Hahnemann.

For the last 2 1/2 years, HUP has been downsizing its orthopedic division. Torg said 11 of 21 orthopedic surgeons, including three in sports medicine, have left the hospital.

HUP's orthopedic department hasn't had a permanent chairman since Carl Brighton resigned more than two years ago.

Torg said the orthopedic and sports-medicine units at HUP had suffered under Dr. William Kelley, the dean of the School of Medicine at Penn. He characterized HUP's current leadership as "a disaster."

"Kelley doesn't understand you can't treat broken bones and ligament tears with gene therapy and molecular biology," Torg said.

Kelley, who was read those remarks, said that HUP was committed to raising the level of orthopedics and sports medicine to "one of the best in the country" within the next five years and that in January Torg would be replaced with two physicians.

For the moment, however, Kelley said, HUP is trying to expand other subsurgical specialties, such as ophthalmology, rehabilitative medicine, otorhinolaryngology, urology and neurosurgery.

Torg said he averages about 90 reconstructive knee surgeries and 200 arthroscopic procedures a year. He said the knee surgeries typically cost $20,000 and arthroscopic surgery costs about $8,000. That translates into about $3.4 million in annual lost business for HUP.

Commenting on the substantial revenues Torg generates for HUP, Kelley said, ''I suspect that may be why Hahnemann made an effort to move him over there."

How the move affects Torg's job with the Eagles is unclear.

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