Source: Anna Taylor, The News-Enterprise
In 2011, Bill Langley received the permanent relief he needed in his left knee after months of aching arthritis pain. The pain stemmed from a high school football injury, he said.
“The cartilage was all gone and it was basically bone rubbing on bone,” Langley said.
Because he had heard nothing but “great things” about Hardin Memorial Hospital’s total joint program and Drs. Jeff Been and Marcis Craig at E’town Orthopedics through friends and the numerous hospital visits the Severns Valley Baptist Church pastor had done, he knew where to go for a solution.
In March of that year, Langley had a total knee replacement at age 52.
“I started going for about six months before the total knee replacement,” he said. “I got temporary relief, but in the end, we knew the knee would need to be replaced.”
Langley said the different nurses, his doctor and occupational therapists were a solid team who made for a positive experience.
“They were very professional,” he said. “It was, I’ll say, conservative in the initial stages. … They were demanding on rehab. The follow-up care was fantastic.”
Within two days, Langley was walking on crutches and a week later, he was walking without them.
“Six months out, I was doing pretty much everything like I did before,” he said.
Hardin Memorial Hospital recently was named one of 36 hospitals in the nation to have the lowest 30-day readmission rates for hip- and knee-replacement surgeries, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services published through the Becker Hospital Review.
The national average rate of readmission after the surgical procedures is 4.6 percent. Hardin Memorial Hospital’s rate is 3.2 percent. The hospital is among the top 12 of the 36 and has rates better than Mayo Clinic, Emory University Hospital and other high-performing facilities.
This isn’t the first time the hospital has received recognition for its orthopedic total joint program.
In 2015, Been and Craig scored top marks on a ProPublica report that tracked complication rates for surgeons across the nation. They also had the lowest complication rates in the state. Out of 39 hospitals in Kentucky, the doctors ranked first with the fewest complications in the state for hip replacement and second in the state for knee replacement.
Craig, who has been a doctor at the hospital since 2003, said the team he and Been has is what makes the program so successful.
“We have a good (operating room) and surgical team and good therapists, and it’s just a multi-visionary team that works hard to keep our patients feeling well,” Craig said.
Been, who has worked at the hospital since 2005, agreed having a good team helps maintain low readmissions and great success with patients, but so does consistency.
“Being really consistent in how we’re treating patients (is key), and we have very consistent staff and, for the most part, consistent nursing,” Been said. “We try to take all of the X-factors out that we can and we try to be really consistent and do things according to the standards of medical care.”
The majority of their patients are for knee-joint repair, but they also see hip and shoulder patients. In the past year, the doctors combined have completed 485 joint surgeries. Since both have been practicing at the hospital, they have combined for more than 3,700 total hips, knees and shoulders.
They strive to get their patients back to a normal routine as soon as possible.
“We get them up that first day (post-surgery) to teach them how to walk again,” Craig said. “Our goal is to get people home as quick as possible.”
Craig estimated the average hospital stay for their patients is about two days following the surgery.
“I would say probably 90 percent of patients are popping out of bed within an hour of surgery,” Craig said.
Aggressive rehab and recovery helps shorten patient stay at the hospital, Been said.
“Not just here, but the shift over the last 20 years in orthopedics has been less of a hospital stay, less of a reason to just lay around and have more problems,” Been said.
“We hardly use Foley catheters anymore, for example,” he added. “That’s something else that could potentially cause complications like urinary tract infections. So we try to remove some of the things that are tying the patients down such as that, and we use better anesthesia and pain control and different blocks and injections that we do to try to help with the pain control.”
The expectation of a short stay now is put on the patient from when they first arrive for surgery.
“If you raise the expectations in the patients’ minds and then you are following through with doing things that make it easier for them to get out of the hospital sooner, then that’s why we (accomplish) the goals to get them back home to their normal routine,” Been said.
Anna Taylor can be reached at 270-505-1747 or email@example.com.