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VA interested in local joint program
Written by Lu Stitt   
Wednesday, 11 November 2009 13:40

Good news travels fast and sometimes far as in the case of Verde Valley Medical Center’s Joint Replacement Program.

In 2008 the program received the Arizona Showcase in Excellence Award by the Arizona Quality Alliance. A few weeks ago the medical center received word that physicians from the Richard L. Roudebush Veterans Affairs Hospital in Indianapolis, Ind., wanted to come and observe the program.

The intent was to take the model back to Indianapolis and apply it at the hospital for veterans there who need a replacement for their hip, knee or shoulder, according to the hospital’s Rehabilitation Coordinator Steve Black.

“It’s a dream of ours to improve the program we have in Indianapolis. We want to evaluate VVMC’s program to see if this is something we can take back and use,” Black said as he watched Paul Prefontaine, director of rehabilitation services, and Jon Cook, manager of EntireCare, evaluate clients.

About 25 people met for a pre-surgery class and evaluation session at VVMC. Medical personnel watched patients walk and measured their leg that was to receive the surgery. Four of the clients were veterans from World War II through Desert Storm.

“Our focus is on collecting information from the client so we can make improvements and decisions based on scientific data. You can’t make a good decision without all the facts,”

refontaine said as he checked Bob Johnston’s stature as he walked down the hall and back. Johnston is a 27-year Navy veteran who served in Korea and Vietnam. He is getting a new hip. Both knees were replaced in previous surgeries, he said.

“We’ve been collecting data for about four years and have teamed up with Northern Arizona University so we can see improvements in our clientele. That’s what we won the award for last year,” Prefontaine said. “We find out the ‘how come’ they need a replacement.”

The clients are reevaluated at discharge from the hospital and again at the one-year point to see what change and improvements have taken place.

A spouse, significant other or friend accompanied the client to the pre-surgery class so they could learn what is needed as well. The client stays in the hospital about 2½ days and then goes home, so someone needs to know how to take care of them there, according to Prefontaine.

VVMC started joint replacement about seven years ago. Over the past four years, the program has progressed to include the pre-surgery class, evaluation, data gathering, pain management and physical therapy.

Black found out about the program through a research article published Nov. 19, 2008, in the BioMed Central Journal by VVMC joint replacement program staff members.

“The article stood out from the others. The data collection was outstanding. I heard about this type of program in Europe, so when I heard about it in the states I had to come and check it out,” Black said as he took the clipboard from Prefontaine and evaluated a patient. Black is Prefontaine’s counterpart at the Indianapolis hospital.

The hope is, Black said, to develop a program that can be a model for other VA hospitals around the country, but he did not promise they would pick it up.

“We first want to improve the program for our veterans in Indianapolis,” he said.

Erolinda Jendrey from Sedona is having her right knee replaced. All the cartilage is gone and it is painful for her to walk, even a short distance.

“I’m apprehensive. I don’t like surgery, but I’m glad they’re here. If not I just always am in pain. I’d probably eventually stop walking and that wouldn’t be any fun,” Jendrey said as Lisa Kelley, nurse clinician, measured her leg length and the circumference above and below the knee.

“We’re excited the people from Indianapolis are here. We’ve had a very high success rate and hope they can implement a similar program at their hospital,” Cook said.

The clients in the class were scheduled for surgery within the next two weeks. They received instructions on what to expect and what was expected of them.

“It helps them prepare for the surgery and what they can do to speed their recovery afterward,” Cook said.

The Indianapolis team spent two days at VVMC to observe the class and data gathering procedure, along with the rehabilitation and pain management program, he said.

Lu Stitt can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 122, or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

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