MCHC Health Centers has maintained local access to specialty care through a partnership with board-certified orthopedic spine surgeon Dr. Yoshi Katsuura.
Dr. Katsuura used to live and practice medicine in Willits, but after a few years employed by a physician group, Dr. Katsuura decided to buck the trend in medicine and open a solo practice, giving him the freedom to improve access and provide tailored care to his patients.
This led to his current situation: spending two days a week in Mendocino County seeing patients at MCHC and three days a week in the Bay Area, where he grew up and where his family resides.
“I wanted to split my time between both places because this [Mendocino County] community is important to me,” he said.
Although Dr. Katsuura specializes in spine deformity and reconstruction, he treats a wide range of spinal conditions from the base of the skull to the pelvis.
He graduated with honors from medical school at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and completed an orthopedic surgery residency at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine at Chattanooga.
He later completed two fellowships, one in spine surgery at Hospital for Special Surgery and Weill Cornell Medical College and another in adult joint replacement under the tutelage of Dr. William Bowen at Howard Memorial Hospital in Willits.
In his current work with MCHC, Dr. Katsuura cares for patients as young as age 10. MCHC CEO Rod Grainger said he is grateful for Dr. Katsuura’s dedication to Mendocino County patients, because being able to provide orthopedic consultations locally expands the type and quality of care MCHC can offer.
Although back pain is often intense and can limit mobility, Dr. Katsuura says it rarely requires surgery.
“It’s understandable that people get worried because the symptoms can seem catastrophic; however, in almost all cases, TLC and proper care can alleviate the problem,” he said. “If symptoms persist for more than 4 to 6 weeks, that’s when people should be evaluated, especially if the pain is accompanied by neurologic symptoms such as weakness.”
Dr. Katsuura warns against self-diagnosis using the internet, and has published a book to counter some of the misinformation available online titled, The Spine Encyclopedia, Everything You Wanted to Know About Back and Neck Pain but were Afraid to Ask.
“Some people think of orthopedics as simply putting broken bones back together, but orthopedics is a complicated field with a lot of nuance, even for those of us who do it all the time,” he said. “You cannot figure it out on your own. You need a guide.”
Dr. Katsuura said he enjoys the challenge of orthopedics, as well as the hands-on nature of the specialty. He notes it allows him to play to his strengths–attention to detail, a lot of focus and a certain amount of finesse, especially when dealing with the delicate structures of the spine.
In describing his philosophy toward medicine, he said he is precise, thorough, and compassionate.
“I am very straightforward with patients. I share my professional opinion and allow them to decide how to proceed,” he said.
To become one of Dr. Katsuura’s patients, people must be referred by their primary care provider.
When he is not busy taking care of patients, he enjoys spending time with his wife and their two boys, ages 2 and 5. He also enjoys exercise and artistic endeavors such as graphic design and illustration–he did all the illustrations for his book, for example.
Dr. Katsuura is pleased to be affiliated with MCHC, which uses a team-based approach to provide dental, medical, and behavioral health care to people in Ukiah, Willits, and Lakeport.
MCHC Health Centers includes Hillside Health Center and Dora Street Health Center in Ukiah, Little Lake Health Center in Willits, and Lakeview Health Center in Lakeport. It is a community-based and patient-directed organization that provides comprehensive primary healthcare services as well as supportive services such as education and translation that promote access to healthcare.