Norma Gerwig of Rowayton described the care she got at Norwalk Hospital during and after her knee replacement surgery back in May as "wonderful." And she has no doubt she will receive the same, if not better, care when she has the same surgery on her other leg next year.
That's because since her last surgery the hospital has opened its Comprehensive Joint Replacement Center.
Gerwig and her husband were among those, including hospital staff and local officials, who were on hand Thursday for the center's official grand opening. The center comprises a newly dedicated unit on 7 East in the main pavilion of the hospital.
Gerwig wanted to check out the unit where she will be staying following her next surgery.
"They've done a nice job. This is ideal," said Gerwig, who used to teach nursing at NCC for more than 30 years.
Gerwig was referring not only to the single rooms with beautiful views of the Norwalk skyline, but also to the community room in the center, which offers a comfortable environment where family members are encouraged to participate in group activities, meals and special events.
At the center physical therapy is provided in individualized and group sessions. The group sessions enable patients to support and encourage each other and can result in new friendships, enhancing the healing process.
A speedy, smooth recovery is the goal of the new center, which is co-directed by Nicholas V. Polifroni, M.D., of Westport, and Michael Lynch, M.D., of Fairfield, both in practice with Coastal Orthopaedics.
"This is all about patient care. With the opening of this center we are going to see rapid rehab and a smooth recovery," Polifroni said.
Patients typically spend about three days at the center, which opened in July. Courtney Lyddy, joint care coordinator, said shorter stays means there's less chance for infection.
"When I was a resident the total joint replacement patients spent four weeks at the hospital. That was a long time," Lynch said.
"We didn't dare move them for a while. There was this regimented get-your-knee-moving type of thing. Nick (Polifroni) just told me today that two of his patients had total hip replacements, and they were climbing stairs that night. A lot of that is due to technical advances in the surgery, a lot of that is due to equipment, but a lot of that is due to a change in attitude. We are constantly learning about the system. What can we do? How can we push the limits? So having a center like this that emphasizes that is a real boon to our patients primarily, and to us because things run a lot smoother. It's exciting for us."
The Comprehensive Joint Replacement Center is staffed by a team of specially trained orthopedic experts, including surgeons, physician assistants, physical and occupational therapists, technicians and case managers. They will offer patients seamless coordinated care. The goal is that each patient returns to his/her normal activities as soon as possible. In addition, a navigator is available to assist each patient from the time of preadmission through the joint replacement procedure and to help manage follow-up visits.
The comprehensive wellness approach of the center includes community seminars, a pre-operative class for patients and family members, a patient guidebook, group therapy and group lunch while in the hospital and a reunion brunch for patients.
"Knowing what to expect helps to relieve stress and anxiety for patients and paves the way for a smooth recovery," Lyddy said.
"The center also brings a lot of camaraderie. Group therapy in the afternoon, group brunch on Thursday mornings for family members and patients. They can compare stories and share what works for them. They can not feel so alone and help each other through the process. And family members feel more comfortable taking patients home."
To learn more about the common causes and latest treatment options for knee or hip pain, how to manage arthritis and information on the newest medications available, you can attend one of the ongoing seminars. For information call 203-852-3024.