Helping people

HARLINGEN — He’s the best in the state.

Dr. Rick Bassett has performed more than 1,000 hip and knee replacements per year for the past five years. So advanced is his expertise, Dexur Rankings has placed him at the top of its list of 100 hip and knee replacement physicians in Texas.

“It’s a real pleasure to be able to help people,” said Basset, orthopedic surgeon and medical director of Valley Baptist-Harlingen’s orthopedics/joint replacement program. He’s also number 12 in the nation.

“A lot of things in medicine, you can help people but you can’t really get them to the point they don’t need you anymore,” said Basset, 67. “If I do a good job, the person walks away from you in four to six weeks and they say, ‘See you later, Rick. I don’t need you anymore.’”

Bassett, a Los Angeles native, came to work at Valley Baptist in 1983 after completing his residency at the Mayo Clinic.

“The reason that I came to this area is that, number one, there was a large need for someone who had this kind of specialty training,” he said. “But also, Valley Baptist at that time built me some special rooms called laminar air flow rooms.”

Those rooms, he explained, help reduce infection. The infection rate at Valley Baptist’s orthopedics/joint replacement program is less than one in a thousand.

Hip and knee replacements usually take place after the patient has endured significant pain for long periods of time because of joint wear and tear. Bassett likes helping relieve that pain.

“You can literally help them go from crippling pain to comfortable walking, so you can have a pretty substantial impact on their lives. That big smile when they walk out of your office the last day, there’s nothing like it. They’re able to do all the good things in their lives with their families.”

Replacing a joint or a knee, however, requires a team, he pointed out.

“I have a wonderful hospital that has provided me with the top level of equipment and people to do this,” he said. “You just don’t take care of folks on your own. You have to have terrific nurses. I have a terrific group of surgeons and surgical technicians in the operating room. We did eight replacements yesterday.”

Bassett said he and his wife love the V … wait a minute! What was that? Eight replacements in one day? How …

“You have a very well-coordinated team,” he said. “We have a wonderful anesthesia group, and they work with you. You do one operating room, and when you finish that surgery they’re ready for you in the next operating room. So you can go back and forth and it’s very smoothly coordinated.”

Bassett had an advantage coming to this area because of his fluency in Spanish. He’s given lectures in 28 countries, including Mexico, South America and Spain — and he delivers those in Spanish. Of course, his fluency greatly benefits his patients here, too.

“I love the Valley,” he said. “I love the weather, I love the people.”


Dr. Rick Basset

BIRTH PLACE: Santa Monica, California

FAMILY: Married to Maria Guadalupe Bassett

CHILDREN: Ian and Nina


Bachelor’s degree in biology at Harvard University, 1974, magna cum laude

Medical College: University of Cincinnati, 1978

Residency: Mayo Clinic, 1978 – 1983

Masters Degree in Orthopedics/Biomechanical Engineering, 1983, University of Minnesota

HOBBIES: Weightlifting, collecting palm trees, collecting cacti