Denver Health Orthopedics Welcomes New Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon

April 18, 2024

Jessica Churchill Denver Health Orthopedics Shoulder Elbow Surgeon

"My job is the best job in the world!" – who doesn't want to hear those words from their surgeon?

For Denver Health Orthopedics new shoulder and elbow surgeon Jessica Churchill, MD, you not only hear her say those words, but you can see the passion she has for her work the moment you meet her.
Dr. Churchill joined the sports medicine division of Denver Health Orthopedics on April 1, 2024. If you have an issue with anything having to do with your shoulder or your elbow, chances are she can treat you for it. From rotator cuff repairs to shoulder dislocations, arthritis, second and third chance revision cases (injuries that did not heal correctly the first time) and more – she does it all.
"I hope my patients know I care deeply about them and that it's really important to me that they do well," Dr. Churchill said.

Born in Michigan and raised in Wisconsin, Dr. Churchill did her orthopedics residency and shoulder and elbow surgery fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic and is thrilled to join Denver Health and move to Denver where most of her family lives. Her parents and grandparents grew up in the Mile High City and she visited Denver frequently as a child.

One of her specialties is complex total shoulder replacement and reverse total shoulder replacement (where the ball is placed on the socket side of the joint, or the reverse of how our shoulders naturally work). The latter is often recommended because it works better for certain rotator cuff injuries or injuries that did not heal properly the first time. Dr. Churchill said that joint replacement surgeries are her favorite surgeries because she feels they help patients get back to a better quality of life. "It's a big pain relief surgery, a big function surgery. I believe in it, I think it's wonderful technology, so those patients are the ones I carry fondly with me and remember because usually it comes from a place of 'before I wasn't able to do x, y, z' and now I am, and that's wonderful."

While she treats a lot of athletic injuries, shoulder injuries can affect anyone and can happen just as easily doing daily activities outside of sports. "Moms picking up their kids, people shoveling snow, taking care of things around the house, repetitive motion injuries (like loading things onto trucks, picking up packages, stocking items in a warehouse), slipping and falling – your shoulder injury can occur anywhere and in anyone," Dr. Churchill said. "Also, a lot of us get arthritis in our shoulder joints as we age."

"I became a doctor mostly to help people," Dr. Churchill said. "Specifically, an orthopedic surgeon because I really thought it was important to get people quality of life in terms of motion. I think sports, staying active, playing with your grandchildren is an integral and important part of your life. It's important for people do the things that they like. As far as I'm concerned, a lot of times there is a relatively easy answer, when we can fix something and get patients back to doing what they were doing before an injury, and for me that's really gratifying.

"People communicate with their upper extremities," Dr. Churchill continued, explaining why she chose shoulders and elbows specifically for her focus. "You may use your hands to talk, it's part of your everyday life. It's hard if you can't do your hair or makeup because you can't reach it, it's hard for people who do things at work – almost everybody uses their upper body at work, even if you're at a desk job typing all day, if you have a shoulder injury, even that is difficult."

As for what she loves most about her job, Dr. Churchill said it is seeing her patients in clinic after a successful surgery. "I like when they bring me their families and they tell me about what they are doing after surgery that they couldn't do before. Connecting with my patients is the whole reason I do this."

An avid trail runner and road runner, she hopes to do all the races in Denver and maybe even run alongside some of her patients. "I was very excited to come out to this area," Dr. Churchill said. "People here are active, they like to get outside, so it aligned a lot with my goals for my practice. I'm hoping to stay here for the rest of my life."

Out of all the health care systems she could have chosen, Denver Health spoke to her because of its mission and values. "I think the population Denver Health serves is very important, it's under-taken care of by other hospitals. Denver Health has a great reputation – all of our providers here care deeply about their patients, they fight hard for them, and they work hard for them to get them what they need, whether it's imaging or surgery or care or get them into a facility for rehab. Denver Health Orthopedics, my colleagues, they are absolute rock stars and great colleagues and I couldn't say enough nice things about them." 


Make An Orthopedic Appointment:

Having pain in your joints? Appointments are now available for patients to be seen quickly and if surgery is needed, we have a group of excellent surgeons who offer joint replacement surgeries shortly after your clinic visit.

Denver Health now allows patients to schedule appointments directly with orthopedic providers, skipping the need for a referral from a primary care doctor. However, certain insurance plans might still require a referral including Medicare and Medicaid. This change simplifies access to orthopedic care, ensuring you can get the orthopedic help you need without unnecessary delays.