Fitness trackers have become a hot item. Some people use their phones. Others use their watches. Jean Beck uses her left knee.
The active, adventurous Bourbonnais resident chose to be one of the first in her area to receive the latest generation of knee replacement implants. These new models are able to measure their own performance and then aggregate and transmit that data securely to health providers.
“It’s very fascinating,” laughs Jean, flashing her stats on her phone’s myMobility app. The app communicates with her new knee in real time, so she is able to measure everything from walking distance and speed to how much the joint bends to the number of steps taken.
Jean, 75, takes a lot of steps, as it turns out. You have to when you’re a grandmother of ten, an owner of two rambunctious dogs, an avid gardener and an active member of your community. Jean volunteers with a local not-for-profit hospice. She and her therapy dog, Belle, an adorable Lhasa Apso-Beagle mix, bring a little joy and delight to the homes of hospice patients throughout the Kankakee area.
Jean doesn’t have to interrupt her life with follow-up appointments. Rajeev Puri, MD, an orthopedic surgeon who cares for patients at Ascension Saint Mary - Kankakee, can make sure that her new knee is working properly by checking it remotely.
Building on past success
Jean first met Dr. Puri in 2020 when her family doctor recommended that she see him. At the time, Jean was experiencing pain in her right knee, especially when she was going up steps. After getting X-rays at Dr. Puri’s office (only two miles from Jean’s home) and trying nonsurgical treatment options, she went with his recommendation to have her right knee replaced.
Jean came away happy with both the comfort of her new knee and her experience with Dr. Puri.
“[Dr. Puri] is the most understanding, competent doctor that you would want to have,” she enthuses. “He explains everything thoroughly. His bedside manner is excellent. I can’t say enough nice things about him.”
Two years later, Jean felt that familiar pain creep into her other knee. She found herself becoming more and more concerned about her safety, especially while navigating the steps to people’s homes when volunteering with Belle. She came into Dr. Puri’s office for another series of X-rays and on June 20, 2022, underwent her second knee replacement procedure at Ascension Saint Mary - Kankakee.
The orthopedic surgeon’s choice of operating hospital
Ascension Saint Mary - Kankakee handles one of the highest orthopedic surgery volumes in its area. With high volume comes a highly refined process, more experienced providers and a better patient experience both before and after surgery.
Dr. Puri has high praise for the hospital’s entire joint replacement team, including its nurses, surgical technicians and pre-op team. “[Ascension Saint Mary - Kankakee]’s two nurses, Mary Kay [Renschen] and Tanya [Woods], have really made a study of joint replacement and how to prepare patients. They read articles and use the current thought in how to medically optimize the patient before surgery. They look at their allergies. They know the right antibiotics. There is a whole checklist of things — dental issues, pulmonary condition, cardiology, prostate issues that may affect their ability to urinate after surgery — they think that far ahead.” This attention to detail helps prevent infections and other complications.
Ascension Saint Mary - Kankakee also drives innovation via its Orthopedic Joint Council. During this monthly conference, the surgeons, anesthesiologists, physical therapists and nurse navigators convene to review each patient’s unique case, go over research and protocols, and coordinate their efforts.
“We’re constantly evaluating new technologies, such as robotic-assisted surgery,” says Dr. Puri, “but we might spend an hour discussing new dressing and bandage options.” These miniscule details can have a major impact on a patient's experience and outcome.
Finally, Dr. Puri also trusts Ascension Saint Mary - Kankakee’s pre-op team to speedily connect his patients with any specialists they may need, including hospitalists and cardiologists.
Compassionate, personalized patient preparation
With Ascension Saint Mary - Kankakee’s team handling all the medical details behind the scenes, Jean was free to focus on getting answers to her questions. Before her procedure was scheduled, she met with Dr. Puri at his office to go over the plan, as well as alternatives if her unique risk factors led to complications. According to Dr. Puri, this is a useful thought exercise for both parties.
“I think that by breaking it down and telling [the patient] exactly what we’re thinking about, that helps mitigate anxiety,” says Dr. Puri. “And it makes us think about it, too. So when we go in there, we’re not really surprised by anything.”
Jean also met with Ascension Saint Mary - Kankakee’s nurse navigators, who can consult with patients both virtually and in person. This helped keep pre-registration simple for her. The team kept her informed throughout the run-up to her procedure. When there was a slight delay to her scheduled operation time, Jean appreciated that they told her “so that I wasn’t just laying there, watching the clock.”
After her surgery, Jean followed Dr. Puri’s recommendation to stay in the hospital overnight. She was grateful that the hospital allowed her daughter to stay with her.
I had excellent care at the hospital. They do a fabulous job of making you feel comfortable.
“The results are phenomenal”
Within a week of her procedure, Jean had eased off her prescribed pain medications and was using only over-the-counter medications. Her nurse navigator checked in with her regularly during the first 30 days afterward, and Jean had a lifeline she could call for anything urgent.
Jean has been happy with her progress so far. “My right knee, I don’t even think of it anymore. So I’m anticipating the same thing with my left knee.”
After two months of physical therapy twice per week, Jean was able to return to her volunteer work, her garden, her book club, her grandson’s soccer games, and so much else.
“The results are phenomenal. I’m back to doing everything I did before.”
Jean and her dogs are once again familiar sights in her subdivision and at nearby Perry Farm Park and Lills Park. She can walk up to a mile now, and is working her way up to two miles.
Jean still does physical therapy three times per week, supplementing it with 30 minutes every day on a used recumbent bike she purchased. Jean is on track to complete her physical therapy by the end of September 2022 — just in time to visit her daughter in Phoenix.
And wherever Jean Beck’s next adventure takes her, she’ll know exactly how many steps it took to get there.
Is knee replacement right for you? Learn more and find a specialist in the Chicagoland area at ascension.org/ILOrtho