Jennifer Etheridge, PT, helps a patient utilize equipment in the Activities of Daily Living room.
Baptist Hospital estimates that more than 1,600 joint replacements — hips, knees and shoulders — are conducted at the Nashville facility annually. That number is certainly expected to increase since Baptist opened its new Joint Replacement Center in August.
"Our volume has continually increased, and our patients were asking for more amenities," says Dana Pansa, explaining the catalyst for the center, which is on the hospital's eighth floor in its own wing. Pansa, Baptist's clinical manager of orthopaedics and rehabilitation, says taking care of and educating the patient before surgery and through post-operative therapy is "where we really shine."
That process begins with a 2-1/2 hour class that's free of charge for patients and their family members about two weeks before the surgery. During the class, patients meet their orthopaedic case manager and physical therapist and receive a booklet that walks them through what to expect day by day, beginning with the morning of surgery. A social worker sets up post-op physical therapy at a Baptist outpatient center nearest their homes.
"We encourage our families to come with our patients to the class, because it's not a patient experience, it's a family experience. They need to help encourage the patients when they're having down days. The family member needs to say, 'You know, mom, you didn't do your exercises this morning. Let's get that done.' We also teach the patient's family the exercises and how to care for the patient after surgery," Pansa says. She calls the class a "one-stop shop" because patients also pre-admit to the hospital and take care of their lab work while on site that day.
After surgery, patients enjoy a private room and bath with specialized equipment such as larger, sturdier chairs with strong arm supports to accommodate easier use. "If you have surgery this morning at 7:30, you'll be standing and taking a couple of steps this afternoon," Pansa notes. Joint replacement patients usually stay in the hospital for three days and therapy begins the day of surgery.
The center's new physical therapy gym is "a very specialized area with special flooring to prevent patients from slipping. We have the latest, state-of-the-art equipment. In fact, the mats the patients work out on are electric and adjust to the size of the patient. … It all goes back to the patients' needs," she says, adding, "A lot of the therapy is just one-on-one with each patient."
In-hospital therapy also includes help learning how to accomplish activities such as using a walker, climbing and descending stairs, and getting in and out of a bathtub. A car simulator allows patients to practice getting into and out of a vehicle. "Whatever you need to do to take care of yourself at home, you've already done here in the hospital," Pansa says.
The center is a hit with both patients and the 42 orthopaedic surgeons who use it. Pansa says patients rave about the valet parking and cushy orthopaedic mattresses. "Some of our patients don't want to go home because the mattresses here are so comfortable," she says. On the other hand, she says, "The physicians love the atmosphere here. The patients are walking when they make rounds. We put in a special window so the physicians can watch the therapy sessions."