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1.20.2017

The Lennar Center’s First Patient: An Athlete on the Mend

Growing up in San Diego, Victor Martinez wanted to be an athlete. Unfortunately, his body had other ideas, and a series of injuries led him to be the first patient through the doors of The Lennar Foundation Medical Center when it opened on December 5.

As a high school wrestler, Martinez injured both of his shoulders; each ultimately required surgery. And during the first football game of his senior year, he suffered a serious injury to his left knee that ended any dreams of gridiron glory. He had two knee surgeries in San Diego, but the troublesome joint never healed properly.

Martinez moved to Miami in 2014 to get a fresh start. Today, at 24, he lives in Sunny Isles, studies finance at Florida International University and works as a food server in an upscale restaurant. A year ago, his left shoulder required surgery, and he was referred to Lee D. Kaplan, M.D., professor and Director of the University of Miami Health System Sports Medicine Institute.

“Dr. Kaplan did a terrific job,” said Martinez. “His whole team was very professional, and the surgery on my shoulder was extremely successful.”

A year later, however, Martinez noticed that the restaurant work, which keeps him on his feet, had helped aggravate the old knee injury. He visited Kevin Mills, D.P.T., PT, a physical therapist who has worked with many medical campus staffers at the UHealth Fitness and Wellness Center, who told him his kneecap wasn’t tracking properly, and he needed more than therapy — he needed more surgery.

Fortunately, Martinez knew just who to call, but in the intervening year, Kaplan had moved the entire sports medicine program to The Lennar Center. That’s where Kaplan performed the surgery on December 5, making Martinez the first patient — and the first surgical patient — at the gleaming new outpatient facility on the Coral Gables campus.

“This is a beautiful building, but it also has been designed to help us take a new interdisciplinary approach to sports medicine,” said Kaplan. “We will be working with experts in biomedical engineering, kinesiology, athletics and other areas, and the facility will enhance the work we are already doing with stem cells and regenerative medicine. In addition, patients with similar conditions or injuries will be able to meet and provide peer support to one another.”

Since the surgery, Martinez has had two follow-up visits — the first to remove stitches, and the second to clear him for greater range of motion and full weight-bearing walking. As before, Martinez is very satisfied with the quality of the medical care he received, but he said The Lennar Center also offers an unmatched patient experience.

“It’s a beautiful place to walk into,” he said, “and everyone you encounter is so helpful and friendly. I came here because I wanted the best, and that’s what I received.”

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