By Mitch Moore, Knoxville News Sentinel Custom Publishing Correspondent

When Premier Surgical Associates was established 20 years ago, one of its primary missions was to increase the quality of healthcare its surgeons delivered to their patients. When the original 15 founding partners merged their individual practices, their focus was on using their newfound strength in numbers to increase efficiencies, provide more cost effective care and, of course, improve the overall health of the community.

Two decades later, as the practice celebrates its 20th anniversary, those goals are still being met and surpassed. And as Premier Surgical has  continued to add new surgeons, office locations and areas of specialty, it remains one of East Tennessee’s premier healthcare providers.

Dr. Lytle Brown

Dr. Lytle Brown

“Our original focus has been maintained, and that’s why Premier has been going strong for 20 years,” says Dr. Lytle Brown, one of the surgeons based at Premier’s Parkwest Medical Center office.

“The fact that we’ve been able to grow and remain effective speaks to our desire to deliver the highest quality care we can,” explains Dr. Brown.

With a staff of 28 board-certified surgeons, Premier is able to meet a wide range of surgical needs, from general surgery to vascular, bariatric, hernia and breast cancer procedures – including those utilizing laparoscopic and robotic techniques.

“We’re the region’s largest general and vascular surgery group,” says Premier Surgical CEO Kevin Burris. “There’s no similar group of surgeons like this in Knoxville, and we work closely with our hospital partners to support the surgery needs they have. It’s a great working relationship.”

According to Dr. Brian Garber, a surgeon based out of Premier’s Tennova North & Physicians Regional office, having so many surgeons in one practice offers multiple benefits to patients.

Dr. Brian Garber

“It gives us the ability to cover almost anything that needs to be done,” Garber says, noting that with 28 surgeons on staff, being able to easily make a cross-referral to a colleague regarding a specific area of treatment ultimately serves the patient’s best interests.

“There’s an efficiency of size, because there’s usually someone who can handle just about any type of emergency,” he adds. “There are a variety of things we can take care of while providing timely care.”

Currently, Premier has surgical offices in most Knoxville hospitals and medical centers, including Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, Parkwest Medical Center, Physicians Regional Medical Center, North Knoxville Medical Center and Turkey Creek Medical Center.

The practice has two bariatric surgery programs in Knoxville: Foothills Weight Loss Specialists at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center downtown and New Life Center for Bariatric Surgery at Turkey Creek Medical Center. They perform a variety of weight loss procedures, including the new, non-surgical gastric balloon technology with the Orbera and ReShape weight loss systems. Premier also has satellite offices in Alcoa, Crossville, Dandridge, Lenoir City, Morristown and Sevierville.

“Our satellite offices are comprised primarily of vascular surgeons,” Brown explains. “For a lot of those patients, mobility is an issue, and our satellite offices give them the ability to be seen by a specialized physician in an area where there isn’t one. It gives them easier access than having to come to Knoxville.”

Premier Surgical Associates is also meeting the broader healthcare needs of the community with its specialty clinics, which treat such broad-ranging medical issues as hernias, varicose and spider veins, hemorrhoids and prosthetic limb replacement. In addition, Premier operates the Elite Skin & Laser Center, which offers non-surgical body contouring as well as revitalizing laser and customized facial treatments.

The new Premier Surgical facility at 6408 Papermill Drive.

The new Premier Surgical facility at 6408 Papermill Drive.

Each of those treatment centers can be found in the new Premier Surgical Papermill facility, which recently opened its doors at 6408 Papermill Road. The completely renovated 28,000-squarefoot, two-story office now houses the aforementioned specialty clinics as well as Premier’s corporate offices, ultrasound rooms, and treatment and recovery rooms for office-based surgical procedures.

According to Burris, the new Papermill facility is expected to improve the patient experience by offering better access in a central location, essentially providing one stop shopping for many of Premier’s patients.

“In the past, people only knew about us if they needed us, but that’s going to change,” says Burris. “You can see the building and our sign from the interstate.”

“I think it’s important for people to know about the great group of physicians who are stepping into this facility,” says Burris.

As for Premier Surgical’s future, Burris says the practice is committed not only to treating today’s patients but focusing on finding ways to improve healthcare delivery going forward.

“We like to remain entrepreneurial and stay on the cutting edge of the industry,” he explains, noting that the new Papermill office houses a research department dedicated to developing new vascular devices like stents and balloons.

“It will allow us early access to these new technologies and enable us to help the industry develop them,” Burris adds.