Published on October 09, 2017

Home sweet home in a day or two

The rapid recovery joint replacement program at St. Mary quickly gets people on their feet and headed home.

Having a joint replaced used to be a lengthy affair. You could expect to be in the hospital for about three days. And often you’d go from the hospital to inpatient rehabilitation. You might not return home to sleep in your own bed for two weeks or more.

“That’s a long time to be away from home,” says George P. Cautilli, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon and Medical Director for the St. Mary Center for Joint Replacement.

That’s not how joint replacement is done at St. Mary today, however. Patients are up and walking hours after surgery. Most are ready to leave the hospital the next day after surgery and can go straight home.

St. Mary’s rapid recovery joint program—as it’s called—makes all of that possible by:

Educating patients before surgery so they know exactly what to expect—and what’s expected of them

Effectively managing patients’ pain so that they can get up and walk as quickly as possible after surgery

From skeptics to believers

When the rapid recovery program began, patients were skeptical. But Dr. Cautilli was a firm believer.

“Dr. Cautilli would come to the hospital after office hours and walk down the hallway with the patients,” says Monica Eckhardt, MSN, RN, Orthopedic Service Line Administrator at St. Mary Medical Center. “He showed them it was safe to get up and walk.”

The Joint Replacement Center holds quarterly reunion luncheons for joint replacement patients. Nurses, physical therapists and patient navigators are also invited.

“Some of the patients had prior joint replacements at other hospitals, but they rave about how much better their experience was with us,” Dr. Cautilli says. “Patients want to become independent as quickly as they can. They just aren’t sure that they can do it. It’s our job to show them that it’s safe and possible.”