Pre-surgery orientation helps patient's knee replacement get off on the right foot | Ascension

Pre-surgery orientation helps patient's knee replacement get off on the right foot

On Feb. 22, Jeannette Baldwin was getting out of bed when she felt a sudden, excruciating pain in her right knee.

Brian Goentzel, the Ascension Medical Group Via Christi pain specialist Jeannette sees for her sciatica, referred her to orthopedic surgeon Christopher Halphen, DO.

"My knee was like an old car with 200,000 miles on it," says the 69-year-old Wichita retiree, who was diagnosed with an insufficiency fracture. "It just gave out."

After careful evaluation, Dr. Halphen recommended a total knee replacement.

Jeannette, who only two months earlier fell and had surgery two days later to repair a fractured left shoulder, agreed; however, for this surgery, she wanted to be better prepared for what to expect before, during and after her procedure.

Dr. Halphen's nurse recommended that she take advantage of the pre-surgical patient education offered by the Ascension Via Christi Joint Replacement Center.

"We both were impressed with the information you provided," wrote Jeannette to the team following the April 5 session she and her son attended. "As a patient about to undergo a total knee replacement, I feel less frightened because I'm better educated."

"I'm sure there are many facilities that could do my surgery, but Ascension is the only place I know that cares enough about their patients to offer a patient preparedness orientation," she wrote. "I can't imagine how much time you save nurses and doctors by answering our questions in the session."

Putting the plan into place

On Monday, April 18, Dr. Halphen replaced Jeannette's knee during an hour-long early morning procedure at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis.

After a brief stay in recovery, she was back in her room. That afternoon, she took a 100-foot walk with the help of her physical therapy team and a walker.

"That’s really important so you don't get all stiff," says Jeannette, whose pain was being well managed by a nerve block done in surgery. She also was given hourly exercises to do in her room.

The following morning, her care team helped her get up and into the recliner in her room. After breakfast, Jeannette had her first physical therapy session in the center's group exercise room and a second session after lunch.

"It's motivating seeing someone who has had the same surgery as you doing the exercises," she says. “It gives you an incentive to keep pushing."

The rest of the day was spent resting and doing her in-room "homework": Circulatory and breathing exercises and icing her surgical site to reduce swelling.

Next steps

While most patients go home in one or two days, part of the pre-operative education process is crafting a personalized post-hospitalization plan for each patient. After surgery, the surgeon and hospital team work collaboratively to ensure the right next step.

For Jeannette, that meant a third day of group physical therapy sessions and then, according to her plan, being discharged to a skilled-nursing facility to continue her recovery.

"I've had no surprises," says Jeannette. "I knew totally what to expect and was very well prepared."

She gives a lot of the credit to program coordinator Shannon Wilson, who led her orientation session and helped her navigate her hospital stay.

"To me, Shannon is Ascension," says Jeannette, as are all the people she encountered during her brief hospital stay, whether serving at the Admissions desk, providing her nursing care and therapy, delivering her food or cleaning her room. "You see the same level of concern and above-and-beyond care with every member of the team. It's like a single, consistent thread."

Her advice to others considering a total knee replacement?

"Have it done at the Joint Replacement Center at either St. Francis or Ascension Via Christi St. Teresa and be sure to attend the orientation," says Jeannette. “It provides a wonderful roadmap of what to expect from start to finish.”

Get more information about Ascension Via Christi Orthopedic Care by visiting:

Learn more about Dr. Goentzel: and Dr. Halphen: