When retired social worker and therapist Don Schmidt compares his recent total hip replacement procedure at Newton Medical Center (NMC) to the one he underwent 14 years ago, he calls it a “totally different experience.”
“From the get-go, this experience was a million times better,” the lifelong Newton resident says. “Starting with my first meeting with Dr. (James) Pigg to the pre-surgery education, the surgery itself and my recovery, it was so much better in all aspects.”
Earlier this year, a workup showed Schmidt’s right hip had deteriorated to the point where there was no cartilage. Consequently, he knew it was time to consider getting the hip replaced.
“It wasn’t a crisis situation,” he says, “but it was starting to keep me awake at night and certain movements would cause me pain. I knew from my past experience it was time to think about getting this one replaced.”
However, given his prior surgery in 2004 when he traveled to an out-of-area hospital for a hip replacement on the left side, Schmidt was hesitant. He left the hospital after that procedure in considerable pain and armed with only a single sheet of paper containing exercises he had no idea how to do.
“My pain after that surgery was nearly unbearable,” he recalls. “I had pain immediately after the surgery and had significant pain for weeks afterwards. I received no direction whatsoever on the exercises or therapy I was supposed to do.”
Schmidt’s totally different and infinitely more positive NMC care experience began with his initial work-up under the direction of Dr. Pigg, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in total joint replacement.
“I wanted to have my surgery done locally,” Schmidt says. “Through word of mouth I had heard about Dr. Pigg. Others who had gone to him had good things to say.”
Schmidt then attended the hospital’s joint replacement pre-op class led by Jennifer Speer, RN, nurse navigator for the joint replacement program, to understand what was ahead. Jennifer not only provided educational materials, he says, but also instilled a sense of confidence and comfort about his upcoming procedure.
“I didn’t receive totally new information at the class, as some of it had already been sent to me,” Schmidt says. “But in the face-to-face meeting with Jennifer, she walked through everything, which was very helpful. I had complete knowledge of what was going to happen and it was also very helpful for me to hear questions from the other participants.”
The morning of Wednesday, June 5, Schmidt underwent his hip replacement surgery. By that evening, under the guidance of the physical therapy team, he was out of bed and moving. Over the short duration of his stay, the team helped him go up and down stairs, get in and out of the car and make other movements in ways that would keep his hip protected. By mid-afternoon Thursday, he went home, virtually pain-free and with a complete understanding of movements and exercises that would keep him safe and promote healing. And on Friday, two days after his surgery, he began his outpatient therapy to continue building his strength and mobility.
The entire experience, he says today, was seamless – professional, expert care delivered with a dose of compassion and kindness.
“The staff and care were outstanding,” he says. “Everyone was very attentive, always checking on me to make sure I didn’t need anything. And everyone I interacted with was knowledgeable and professional. It was just a positive experience all around.”