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Getting Back to Golf

By Ron Cole, a Joint Replacement patient

JointCampPhoto.jpgPulling in to the Wentworth-Douglass Hospital parking lot in early December, I turned to my wife and commented, with slight exasperation, “Why in the heck do I need to spend three hours in a joint class?”

At the age of seventy four, with several surgeries in my past - a couple of them on knees - the import of my being here did not sit well.

Hearing me, she commented sweetly, “They suggested it. Maybe they know better than you.” As she was to be my knee coach she was obviously flexing her responsibility muscles.

My reason for being there was simple: last year I coached high school softball and soccer teams while on a cane. Plus, last summer, I managed only 3 rounds of golf - canes are not conducive to a game of golf!

I did not want this to occur again, and my physician Dr. Robert Harrington advised that a new knee was basically my only option.

We arrived into a classroom setting holding several other folks who I discovered were fellow joint patients. We were greeted by Program Manager Donna Smith, a very pleasant woman who explained what was going to transpire from 8-11 a.m. this day (giving me a chance to internally harrumph once again).

She held up the Knee Replacement Notebook, advising that we should have been given one by our physician, or they would provide one at that point. She explained that this would be the road map of our joint replacement trip.

Jill Thorner was then introduced as the operating room technician. Donna also explained that Jill has been with the hospital for many years.

Jill’s presentation was thorough as to the expectations prior to surgery, and what would transpire during surgery and just after. Her interaction with Donna was smooth, professional and with slight humorous cast as well. At one time or another, both explained that they wanted us to know everything about what was going to take place, so that we would have a positive anticipation.

“When you feel good, said Jill, “everything goes better.”

In the course of the next several hours, we met with representatives from most all departments we would be interacting with as part of our journey to a new knee, including Food and Nutrition, Respiratory Therapy, Relaxation and Stress Reduction (let me digress just a second, I, by this time, had heard these words “it is all about you” several times”).

Donna Hickman (Nurse Manager of “3 Garrison” - the medical/surgical inpatient wing that houses the Joint Replacement Program) came in next. Hickman was one of the founders of the Joint Replacement Program, along with Donna Smith. She led us to believe that there is only one team on 3-Garrison - “we are all the “A” Team” she said with a smile, and my subsequent experience found this to be correct.

The visitors to our gathering continued coming in. We saw the folks from Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and a case manager who explained that as soon as possible after our surgery, we would be up and walking, and gave the answer to the unspoken question - how long would we stay and where would we go after discharge: to a PT facility or directly home?

I should explain that as each of these folks was speaking throughout the morning, it was interactive and questions were handled with clear responses.

We were filled in on what to expect after a return home, the amount of physical therapy we would most likely need, and that there were a number of places that we could access to do it as well as WDH. (I chose WDH and have been incredibly happy with the way I have been treated).

Donna Smith and friends have many precepts they live by, here are a some: “Where communication is key”; “returning patients to optimal health with a team approach”; “we offer a unique service, to enhance patient satisfaction and provide an environment of wellness.”

Most of us have been exposed to quotes and platitudes on many things and soon we learn that they mean nothing.

This was not the case at WDH’s Joint Replacement Center.

Here’s a quote that was given to me by one of the Wentworth-Douglass providers: from the French, Savoir c’est pouvoir: simply translated “knowledge is power.”

That’s the ticket with the WentworthDouglass Joint Replacement Center. Let me give you a personal experience about what you get at WDH. A dear friend had a knee replacement a month after mine, and had it done at a prestigious big city hospital. He and I of course had to exchange experiences, and his comment to me was: “I was treated very professionally - kind of like an assembly line. But YOUR experience was one of being treated professionally - by people who genuinely care.” That’s it folks, Wentworth-Douglass people really do care, and they show it.

I’ll see you on the golf course, and I’ll be walking – not riding.

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