Joint replacement center focuses on comfort for healing

By Jennifer Lassiter
star staff
jlassiter@starhq.com

  Hip and knee replacements are made easier for patients at the Joint Replacement Center (JRC) within the Johnson City Medical Center (JCMC). Patients know what to expect due to an extensive support group that takes patients through each step of the healing process.
  The newly opened unit houses small groups of four or five people and is centered around all the comforts of home to encourage the healing process. Each patient undergoes the replacement surgery on Monday or Tuesday and spends the rest of the week doing physical therapy, watching movies and recuperating together. On the last day of their stay they compete in a golfing putting game for prizes.
  Madge Lewis, 78, of Bluff City, had a total knee replacement at the Center on Tuesday. She said while at the center she learned how to help herself after surgery with simple tasks like tying her shoes and walking.
  "I am pleased with the service and it's really amazing how fast my recuperation has been," said Lewis.
  The beds at the facility remind her of her vacation spot in the mountains. "I sleep so good on that bed, and I have been just as comfortable here," said Lewis.
  Patients are admitted directly to the JRC on the sixth floor of the JCMC where they skip the admission process. Patients are encouraged to bring clothes from home.
  "They love it," said Kim Adelman, Director of Rehab Services, and a Physical Therapist at JCMC. "By being able to go straight to a room, patients' families know where they are and it makes it less stressful."
  The staff at the Center is dedicated to this unit and not rotated to other locations around the hospital. This allows them to create a stronger relationship with joint replacement patients and better understand their needs.
  The surgical procedure itself is also customized for the Center. Two surgical units are assigned to each participating doctor. These surgical groups work to streamline the process and make it as easy and efficient for the physician as possible.
  "This is a Patient-Centered Care initiative for patients involved in the Joint Center program," said Jennifer Baker, Assistant Director of Inpatient Surgery for JCMC. "The design makes it efficient for the physicians and less stressful for the patients."
  Approximately 100 patients have gone through the Center since it first opened in June, and Adelman said the difference is already apparent.
  "I feel that our surgeons number among the world's best in joint replacement. We perform hundreds of successful total joint replacements each year using advanced surgical procedures. Our program is dedicated to providing high quality care with individualized attention to achieve the highest levels of patient outcomes and satisfaction," Turner said. "The Joint Replacement Center is the only dedicated joint replacement facility in Northeast Tennessee."