Cutler finding a quiet cure in Vail
VAIL – Relax Chicago, Jay Cutler’s thumb is in good hands.The Bears quarterback had surgery Wednesday in Vail to repair his broken thumb, making Cutler Vail’s latest medical tourist.Surgeon Dr. Randy Viola with the Steadman Clinic did the procedure.”Surgery went great. Randy Viola is the best,” Cutler said on Twitter. “Be back as soon as I can.”While Cutler went public, Viola remained quiet about it, as local doctors almost always do.”We see a lot of big name athletes and they want their privacy,” Viola said. “It’s all done quietly and under the radar,” Viola said.With Viola, Cutler’s thumb was in the hands of one of the 45 Best Hand and Upper Extremity Surgeons in America, rated by Becker’s Orthopedic & Spine Review.Viola is a hand, wrist and elbow specialist, and a medical consultant to the U.S. Ski Team, the Colorado Rockies and Denver Broncos. He joined the Steadman Clinic in 1999, according to the clinic’s website.They don’t discuss patients, Viola said, and he had no comment on Cutler.”We get them in quietly, get them taken care of and get them out without a lot of people knowing about it,” Viola said.But sometimes people find out. The New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez was through here and left some buzz in his wake. Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, too. Former NBA star Yao Ming and Pittsburgh Penguins forward Mike Comrie didn’t mind if people knew they had been here. When a fan stabbed tennis star Monica Seles in the back, she recovered with the Steadman Clinic.Kobe Bryant, of course, was through the Steadman Clinic for knee surgery a few years back. The surgery went fine. The rest, not so much.Anyway, an untold number of high-profile patients come here for all sorts of orthopedic procedures – it’s an untold number because no one’s telling.
Still, medical tourism is on Vail’s horizon and a little star power can help, says Vail town council member Margaret Rogers.”Everyone likes to ogle celebrities a little. If Jay Cutler is happy to be in Vail, even for this reason, then maybe others will decide that if it’s good enough for an elite NFL quarterback, it’s good enough for them,” Rogers said.Cutler’s thumb was broken in a televised game against the San Diego Chargers, so there was no secret about what happened. It’s not that way for everyone.”Lots of celebrities don’t want anyone to know they’re here because they don’t want anyone to know they’re injured,” Rogers said.Growing up in Bloomington, Ind., Viola said it seemed strange to him that people would come to one place from all over the world, when there are doctors in their parts of the world.”They come here because we do things a little differently, we go outside the box, and that may allow athletes to get back to a little faster,” Viola said.Rogers and Vail Mayor Andy Daily are among those who’ve spent years beating the drum for medical tourism as a way to level the resort community’s seasonal swings.”Medical tourism is great, first of all because it’s a year-round business, so we’re not dependent in seasonal businesses like skiing,” Rogers said. “The people who come in generally stay a week or longer.”And if you’re going to travel from Chicago to Vail you’re going to have good insurance, or you’re in a demographic that you don’t need insurance, Rogers said.”Yes, they come for reasons that they’re not particularly happy about, but once they’re here and see what we have to offer they’ll come back,” Rogers said. “It’s a great way to introduce people to Vail, in addition to getting them the medical treatment they need.”Cutler suffered a Bennett’s fracture, a break in the metacarpal bone where the thumb meets the wrist. Recovery could take between four and eight weeks.The Bears have six games left this season. Cutler broke his thumb while trying to tackle the Charger’s Antoine Cason. He said nothing about it during the game or post-game interviews.Cutler was originally drafted by the Denver Broncos, who traded him to the Bears.Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.