Growing up in Argentina, Dr. Andres Lerner said he was always surrounded by music.
He father and brother are both musicians, and although Lerner never studied music, he said he can “play a bit of everything” and considers himself an amateur musician.
After moving to Austin about five years ago, Lerner, a minimally invasive hand surgeon and owner of EHI Health Care Surgery Center and Clinic, learned about the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, which provides access to affordable health care for low-
income or uninsured musicians. Now he provides pro bono surgeries to HAAM
“The identity of this city is very much linked to music,” he said. “My origins, my own family and myself love that. This was the perfect thing for me.”
Lerner’s history with music and his profession as a surgeon lend themselves to his pro bono work with HAAM.
“Every time I treat someone from HAAM, [we spend] 45 minutes in the room talking about music, and I enjoy it,” he said. “I like having a relationship with patients where we have that much in common. I think they like when they come and they’re worried about the function of their hands and their ability to continue to play that there’s somebody who understands how they need to do what they do.”
Being that Austin is the “Live Music Capital of the World,” Lerner said he would like to play with a band on weekends and spend more time with his wife, Gisela—a former internal medicine physician—and children Sophia, 4, and Max, 9 months.
For now he devotes much of his time to running EHI, which provides treatment for injuries in the upper and lower extremities, including elbows, hands, ankles and feet.
Lerner moved to Austin to work at the Brown Hand Center based on the recommendation of a friend However, he said he soon discovered its owner Michael Brown was involved in numerous legal and personal issues.
Lerner said he tried to acquire the Austin location with no success, and the company went bankrupt. After Brown died in November 2013, Lerner was able to launch EHI in January 2014 in the former Brown Hand Center location and hire back most of the 30-member Austin staff.
“The staff and the relationship with the community were ours,” he said.
He also brought on Dr. Gary Cramer, who specializes in ankle and foot surgery.
The company also continues to grow. In July 2014 two surgeons from the former Brown Hand Center in San Antonio worked with Lerner to open an EHI office in San Antonio. Earlier in 2015, EHI acquired Precision Podiatry’s three Austin-area locations.
Lerner said he has a lot of work ahead to make EHI a more comprehensive health provider, and having a successful practice will only improve the quality of care.
“It takes a very good blend of good medicine and someone who at the business level has a good conscience and is closely related to the medicine side … and [aligning] those two synergistically,” he said.
Lerner said he is happy with where the company is today. His goal is to practice medicine differently by seeing fewer patients to spend more time with them answering questions, discussing their concerns and developing a relationship with them. To him, education is part of the treatment.
“Ideally I would like this to be a place where everybody wants to work … because it’s a happy place to be where patients are happy, doctors are happy, employees are happy, and they get along and the culture is great,” Lerner said.
EHI Health Care Surgery Center and Clinic, 3107 Oak Creek Drive, Ste. 120, 512-623-7400, www.ehihealthcare.com