A ‘joint’ operation

Teamwork, collaboration an important part of approach to UPHS-Bell’s orthopedic surgery, recovery

The exterior of UP Health System-Bell in Ishpeming is shown at left. (Courtesy photos)

Dr. Wally Pearson has been performing joint replacement surgery at Bell — both the “old” Bell Memorial and the “new” UPHS-Bell — for 22 years now.

Dr. Pearson said it’s that other facilities are good as well, but Bell has done something quite special in the joint replacement area.

“It has to do with the focus on streamlining joint replacement surgery,” Dr. Pearson said. “We meet beforehand and have all the elements in line. We talk to the individual patient about all the aspects of surgery, preparing them mentally and physically, and we discuss risk factors, such as body weight and if the patient is a smoker.

“Everyone gets on board,” Dr. Pearson said. “The patient becomes familiar with the people at Bell and it is very much a family environment.”

This streamlining process is the result of discussions held among all those involved in these surgeries.

Dr. Wally Pearson, who has been performing joint replacement surgery at the hospital for 22 years now. (Courtesy photos)

“We said ‘how can we do this better?’ and everyone got on board,” he said. “At Bell, quality care is efficiently provided.”

Lynn Mattila, Bell’s Director of Surgical Services, said the types of orthopedic surgery done at UPHS-Bell is varied. “We have different doctors with different areas of specialty. We have done 200 total joints and over 300 other orthopedic procedures in the last year at UP Health System-Bell.” Mattila said those surgeries include total joint replacement of hips, knees, shoulders, ankles and elbows, plus a variety of smaller orthopedic procedures. The joint Replacement Program offers a truly comprehensive approach to patient care, with a team of experienced healthcare professionals. Mattila said before a total joint surgery each patient has a one on one preoperative consultation with anesthesia and the therapy team working together to develop and implement treatment plans for each individualized patient.

“With joint replacements, most patients spend the night,” said Yvonne Anderson, Bell’s Acute Care Director. “They receive nursing care plus physical therapy and/or occupational therapy. We set them up with a plan before they go home for therapy, some as an outpatient.

“We make sure they received the information and resources they need,” Anderson said. “We make plans on a case-by-case basis. That’s a big part of our program, an individual, one-on-one approach.”

Mattila said before surgery each patient speaks with a variety of people at the hospital.

“With total joint replacement, there is a pre-operative meeting with the anesthesiologist, the physical therapist, the operating room coordinator,” she said. “At other hospitals, they do a class for a group of patients.”

Anderson said the patient’s pre-surgery health and their circumstances play a role in what additional services they may need post surgery.

“Getting things in place, discharge planning, does not just go by age,” she said. “Again, it’s a case by case situation.”

On the morning before his interview for this story Dr. Pearson had done four joint replacement surgeries.

“That shows how streamlined the process is, how fluid and well-coordinated things are here,” he said. “Our expectations are being achieved.”

While he cannot provide specific statistics, Dr. Pearson said both UPHS-Bell and UPHS-Marquette have one of the best joint replacement programs in the state of Michigan.

“And that happens every quarter,” he said.

That’s not the only positive feedback for orthopedic services at UPHS-Bell.

“We receive many positive comments from our patients,” Anderson said. “Our staff in all areas strive to do their best every time. It’s a team effort from the time a patient walks in the door. That’s when we start the process of patient care.”

And if there is ever a complaint, Mattila said “we strive to improve.”

The bottom line is this, Anderson said: “We treat our patients like we would like our own family to be treated. Many of our patients come talk to us, come and say hello when they stop in the hospital. We strive to have a good rapport with all our patients.”

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