Drs. Hartz, Lesh bring depth of experience to AOSI
While Dr. Clinton Hartz and Dr. Mark Lesh each took different, but lengthy, journeys to joining the Adena Orthopedic and Spine Institute team, both were attracted by the exciting blend of experience and young talent that has been brought together at the new facility.
Putting that blend together under one roof, they say, has definitely enhanced patient care.
“It’s made a huge difference,” said Dr. Hartz. “Coming from some of the bigger academic institutions, I’ve always been able to bounce things off of colleagues and ask questions. It’s nice to have that high level of experience around you – we’re all very collegial and feel comfortable that we can just run down the hall and ask questions to a couple of our surgeons to get some added insight, and patients love that we have that contact and can talk to each other so easily.
“At the same time, with the newer talent, having people who are just out of fellowship also keeps us on our toes, making sure we’re doing things that are up-and-coming and are on par with the more evidence-based medicine as opposed to just doing something because that’s the way you did it for 20 years. It keeps everybody up to date on all the current literature and discussions and it’s nice to be able to mentor the younger, up-and-coming physicians and see the experiences they bring in.”
Dr. Lesh agreed, saying the structure and process put in place in large part by AOSI Medical Director Dr. James Fleming, Jr. has led to a true team approach across the care spectrum within the facility.
For both physicians, their arrival at AOSI has come well into their professional careers.
Dr. Lesh said his practice is about evenly split between sports medicine procedures and joint replacements, including such things as knee arthroscopy, ACL reconstructions, shoulder injuries, arthroscopic rotator cuff repairs, robotic-assisted partial knee replacement and total knee replacement with patient-specific instrumentation.
He first developed an interest in Orthopedics while doing an internship with the husband of his college biology professor.
“Three days a week, I’d go up there for a couple hours and, initially, when I’d heard that was the only medical opportunity at my college, I wasn’t super excited because orthopedics sounded a little worrisome to me because of using saws and mallets, it didn’t sound like the medicine I was thinking of in my mind at that time,” he said. “When I got there and started shadowing him, however, I realized a couple of things. Number one, he loved what he did. Number two, the patients loved him.
“It also was an interesting practice because people would come in with fairly defined problems and a lot of times he would fix them and that was the end of care. That really started to develop my thought process that maybe orthopedics is something for me.”
While in college, he volunteered with Hershey Medical Center and had the opportunity to become involved with Orthopedic research. He completed his residency at the Penn State College of Medicine and went on to do a Sports Medicine fellowship in Washington, D.C., at Georgetown University and Arlington Hospital. Upon completion of the fellowship, he joined a private practice in Pittsburgh where he worked for more than two decades.
When his wife was recruited to become chief legal officer for a technology company in Columbus, Dr. Lesh started looking for orthopedics positions around central Ohio. His interest in Adena formed around several factors, including the new AOSI building and a leadership team that values physician collaboration.
Upon arrival, he discovered several similarities to his practice in Pittsburgh.
“I already feel after almost six months that the same process is happening here,” he said. “I feel I’m developing good partners and I like my patients very much – they remind me of my Pittsburgh patients, very down-to-earth people who are very interested in what you have to say, very receptive to what you’re saying and very trusting in your care, which is important in the patient-physician relationship.”
Dr. Hartz, in his role, handles all types of typical musculoskeletal procedures, including such things as non-operative injections, tendinopathies, musculoskeletal ultrasound, concussion management, PRP and several others. His journey to Adena, while not quite as long as Dr. Lesh’s, certainly involved more travel.
An athlete throughout high school and college, he found his route to medicine through both family and sports experiences.
“My mother worked for a health care facility growing up in a small town and I initially got interested in sports medicine after I broke my neck playing football,” he said.
Following that interest, he completed a family medicine residency at Ohio State and a primary care sports medicine fellowship with ProMedica Health System through the University of Toledo before moving to Colorado to work in private practice with an orthopedic group. He was drawn back to Ohio in 2013 by The Ohio State University, where he practiced Sports Medicine and was a team physician for Ohio State athletics for seven years. Then, in 2020, he went back to Colorado to work as head team physician at Metropolitan State University of Denver, work as a primary care sports medicine physician for the Health Center at Auraria and serve as a senior instructor at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
When his wife, who hails from Adena’s coverage area, felt a desire to return home and with young children who he wanted to spend more time with than working as a team physician would allow, the decision was made to come back to southern Ohio. The sports medicine program at Adena became a nice fit, he said.
“Building the new AOSI, the way they developed the sports medicine model and the way Dr. Fleming has tailored this model to sports really interested me,” he said. “There’s a lot of great providers coming through here, so I believe we can make a huge impact in the region and even across the state.”
That team approach carries strong appeal for both physicians, both in how it applies to operations at AOSI and in how it applies to their interactions with patients.
“The bottom line regarding joint replacement surgery is that it’s an elective procedure,” Dr. Lesh said. “I’m never going to tell someone they have to have a knee replacement, that’s not how it goes. This is a quality of life issue, so the patient has to decide if the pain in their knee is interfering with the things they want to do to the point they’re willing to undergo a procedure to get them where they want to be. Everybody crosses that bridge at a different time. When it’s appropriate, I offer it, but that’s why medical decision making isn’t the doctor deciding what the patient needs, it’s a combination of the doctor and the patient working together to decide what the options are and what’s in the best interest of the patient.”
Dr. Hartz agrees, and feels the experience he’s gained teaching others helps him as he educates his patients in the medical decision making process.
“I’m big into the idea that we’re a team,” he said. “I’m not just going to tell you what you need to do, we’re going to discuss the options and we’re going to come together with a game plan of what works best for you, for your work, for your home life. I’m not just going to dictate what needs to be done, I like to educate my patients and give them all the options to make the best decision for them.”
To seek an appointment with Dr. Lesh or Dr. Hartz, contact the AOSI at 740-779-4598.