Archive April 2019 XX, No. 4

Backbreaker

How Laser Spine Institute's multimillion-dollar surgery empire crumbled in a day.

Matthew Nojiri

BIO

SUDDEN CLOSURE
Highwoods Properties
SUDDEN CLOSURE At its peak, Laser Spine Institute operated 7 regional surgery centers across the country and billed itself as the nation's leader in minimally invasive spine surgery before abruptly shuttering last month, laying off almost 600 employees nationwide.

The Laser Spine Institute's final day started like many others. Prospective patients called in from as far as the coast of Africa for consultations. Families flew in from Canada under the promise they would receive world-class care in the company's glossy $56 million headquarters in Tampa, Fla., where a steady stream of patients arrived for appointments to visit chiropractors, seek second opinions and schedule back surgeries.

That afternoon, Robert Koser, DC, had a potential patient on the line when members of the leadership team told him to wrap up the call. It was time for an all-employee meeting.

Then, the news came in: The Laser Spine Institute, the company that had billed itself as the nation's leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, was closing at the end of the business day, shuttering its 4 surgery centers in Tampa, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Scottsdale, Ariz., and laying off almost 600 employees nationwide who'll long recall March 1, 2019, as Black Friday.

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