Fillmore County Hospital is honored to announce that a second orthopaedic surgeon will be joining the team of Dr. Travis Stoner, Natasha Frei, PA, and Maggie Johnson, PA. Dr. Melissa Lawrence, an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in the hand and upper extremity, will be joining FCH’s Touchstone Orthopaedic Team as a full-time physician on August 1st.
Dr. Lawrence is moving to Geneva in July from Albany, Georgia, where she has been in private practice for the past nine years. Prior to her private practice in Georgia, she worked for three years with a medical group in Kingsport, Tennessee. Her residency was with Affinity Medical Center in Massillon, Ohio from 2006-2010. This is where she became close friends with Dr. Travis Stoner, whose residency was at the same location and time period. They remained good friends over the years and then last Fall, they ran into each other at the national orthopaedic conference and visited about this possibility. Dr. Stoner’s persistence and belief in the idea led to a meeting between Dr. Lawrence and hospital administration, and the rest, as they say, is history! Almost immediately, FCH was able to see that this opportunity was going to be too good to pass up. Dr. Lawrence’s character, work ethic, background, reputation, and surgical expertise are world-class, and it’s a perfect fit for what is already offered in Touchstone Orthopaedics.
Dr. Lawrence’s practice will primarily focus on upper extremity care, including common shoulder and hand disorders. She also has some general orthopaedic surgery experience in fracture care. This will be a perfect complement to the services offered currently by Dr. Stoner, which is focused on lower extremity disorders of the knee and hip.
Dr. Lawrence grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin a few blocks away from Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers. She graduated college from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a degree in Occupational Therapy and practiced as an OT for nine years in the Green Bay public schools before going to medical school at Des Moines University. She graduated there in 2005 as a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. A very similar career path was taken by Dr. Stoner, who practiced as a licensed Physical Therapist for several years before going back to medical school with the goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon. Their common background as therapists turned physicians no doubt led to their friendship, which in turn led us to this pivotal moment in time. As much as it will be the start of something great for the patients of FCH, it will be a reunion and somewhat of a dream come true for them to get to practice together. They share a similar passion for giving their patients the best care possible in medicine with the patient at the absolute center of the equation.
Dr. Lawrence’s husband, Jon, who is retired from a successful career in the printing press business, will join her on their journey to Nebraska as will their dogs. They are looking forward to the fresh start and the ability to be back in the Midwest where they have spent most of their lives and will be closer to family in Wisconsin. Outside of medicine, Dr. Lawrence is a huge Green Bay Packers fan and a former season ticket holder. They also enjoy their other pets, anything in the outdoors, camping, fishing, reading, and crafting.
The opportunity to bring another orthopaedic surgeon to Fillmore County Hospital was not something the hospital was actively looking for, yet the further they went into exploring the possibility, it became something that was almost too good to be true. Hospital CEO Chris Nichols comments, “When Dr. Stoner approached me with this idea, I thought it was a farfetched idea. Not many rural hospitals employ one let alone two orthopaedic physicians. But after meeting Melissa, it was apparent that she was special in the same way that Dr. Stoner is and that they are cut from the same cloth. It’s a rare combination of compassion, precision, drive, and human connection that sets both of them apart. I believe our patients will be blown away by Dr. Lawrence. Her personality and the level of care she will provide to us are outstanding. The fact that she wants to spend the rest of her career with us is a blessing and will benefit our medical community greatly.” Dr. Travis Stoner commented, “Melissa is like a sister to me in the professional sense. She’s as good of a surgeon that there is, and an even better person. I am excited how our skills mesh and how we will complement one another. More patients can now stay locally than ever before instead of traveling to receive care, which benefits everyone.”
Dr. Lawrence’s first day in Clinic at FCH will be August 1, 2023. To schedule an appointment with her, please call FCH’s Touchstone Orthopaedic Clinic phone number at 402-759-8201.