Orthopedic specialist New England Baptist Hospital is using its 23-year-old sponsorship of the NBA Boston Celtics to respond to a recent public relations issue.

A study published in The Boston Globe in May noted an average 40-day wait for a non-emergency appointment with an orthopedic surgeon in the Boston area, an increase from 24 days five years ago.

Prompted in part by its participation in the Celtics’ sponsor summit that same month, New England Baptist has rolled out a new activation program to counteract the news about wait periods. The hospital has introduced a healthcare concierge service for the team’s season ticket holders.

“We want to use our relationship with the Celtics to get the word out to a population of prospective patients that we can offer service in an expedited time frame,” said Erin McDonough, New England Baptist’s vice president of public affairs.

The hospital sent a letter explaining the program to season ticket holders and corporate partners. The service offers the opportunity to call a Celtics’ medical coordinator–a New England Baptist employee–to book an appointment.

The hospital, which launched the program in August to gain some buzz before the October 27 start of the NBA season, is moving forward despite some negative consumer feedback calling the program a privilege for deep-pocketed consumers and business executives who can afford season tickets.

The program is not an exclusive perk for the wealthy, McDonough said, noting that the hospital offers a similar physician referral service to the general public.

“There are so many outstanding hospitals in Boston,” she said. “How do you differentiate and market your services in a cost-effective way? This is one way to get our message out.”