Each year about one million Americans have joint replacement surgery, with most achieving the twin goals of pain relief and better mobility. At the Beaufort Memorial Joint Replacement Center, our team of orthopaedic specialists is committed to helping you restore and improve your quality of life.
We stopped in for a chat with Andrea Sadler, the program coordinator for the Joint Replacement Center at BMH, to find out what makes it so unique.
How does patients’ joint replacement journey begin at BMH?
When patients decide in their surgeon’s office joint replacement is their best option, the physician’s office sets them up for a pre-op day. Our pre-op day is a one-stop shop. It’s an entire morning class that sets their expectations for the process of joint replacement, a little bit about surgery itself, what to expect during their hospital stay and their options for recovery.
I also talk to them about risk and early signs and symptoms of issues if they do occur. There’s a lot of open discussion and answering of questions like “How long am I not going to be able to drive?” and “What can I do around the house to make it safer and easier for myself?” This is usually about three to four weeks prior to patients’ surgery date.
There are a lot of steps here to keep patients safe and to make sure all bases are covered prior to this procedure, so that the day they arrive for surgery, we can get them in here, get their surgery done and get them on their way to recovery.
How has joint replacement evolved over the years?
It has become less invasive. The mobility part and the recovery process starts sooner. Years ago we did extended hospital stays, we convalesced for an extended period of time, and we didn’t have the same pain management options that we have now.
So now, with early mobility and less invasive techniques, there’s really no reason for patients not to be able to get up and get going and recover so much better and quicker with less discomfort. Therapy starts and ends much quicker because patients don’t require a lengthy recovery time.
What does BMH do to make patients’ stay as comfortable as possible?
The things that patients mention when I go to visit them after they’ve been here for a day or two is just that they can’t believe how nice everyone is, and how anything that they ask for or need is immediately responded to, and that the staff just goes above and beyond.
I think that’s a common theme throughout our unit. For example, a patient arrived, and when she was introduced to her room, she said, “Oh, how I wish I had gotten the water view.” Well, while she was in surgery, a water-view room opened up because a patient was discharged. So the nurse moved her belongings over to the water-view room, and when she came back up, she had a water view.
Little things like that that you don’t think of as being a part of health care can make a huge difference in patients’ attitude towards their hospitalization, towards the actual procedure and towards the recovery. We want to start out positive and stay positive. Things like the water-view rooms, the chocolates from our local chocolatier and the T-shirts make for a better patient experience.
Our group therapy sessions incorporate golf and corn hole, which are two local favorites in South Carolina, to work on standing balance, endurance and weight bearing. But patients don’t even realize that! I can usually hear them cheering from one end of the hall to the other because they’re having such a good time. They forget they’re here for that moment. They’re not thinking of their knee pain or their hip pain. They’re just having a great time.
What would you like people who are contemplating joint replacement but are still on the fence to know?
There’s no reason to put your life on hold. If you’ve exhausted conservative options for treatment, and you cannot participate in the activities that you enjoy, and your life is restricted, and you have chronic pain, there really isn’t a reason, with the options we have today for joint replacement, to delay.
This is a very active community. We have many, many, many patients whose goal is to be able to return to kayaking, or fishing, or shrimping, or golf, or tennis, the things that involve the outside and the Lowcountry.
Learn more about the Joint Replacement experience at Beaufort Memorial: