It’s not uncommon for people to have personal chefs, personal masseuses, and personal shoppers. Why not enlist a personal orthopedic care coordinator who is with you every step of the way as you prepare for and recover from procedures like joint replacement surgery?
Maile Keller, PTA, and the orthopedic care coordinator at Pullman Regional Hospital, serves exactly that role. Patients who are considering a total joint replacement or have already scheduled a surgery have the opportunity to meet with her individually. This is especially valuable in the era of COVID-19.
“Prior to COVID-19, Pullman Regional Hospital offered a total joint replacement class each month that I would lead, going through some of the same things I do now. Now, I’m available twice a week to patients instead of just once a month,” states Keller. “My role as the orthopedic care coordinator is to help guide the patient and their family or support person through the total joint replacement process.”
What Is Included in Personalized Care Coordination?
One-on-one coordination with Keller allows both the patient and their family member to learn how to prepare for total joint surgery, what to expect during their hospital stay, and instructions for the weeks and months to follow.
“I take the patients step-by-step, outlining for them what is involved in the process. We discuss what needs to be done prior to surgery; things like having medical clearance from their primary care doctor and dentist, maybe going to pre-physical therapy, setting up transportation, home safety and equipment needs, and discharge planning. If something stands out or there is a concern, I'm able to communicate that to the orthopedic surgeon before surgery,” she explains.
The orthopedic care team at Pullman Regional Hospital includes nursing, occupational and physical therapy, social services, hospitalist doctors, pharmacy, anesthesia providers, respiratory therapy, dieticians, and a representative from insurance and billing. If a patient has specific questions or concerns in a particular area, Keller can connect the patient with the right team member.
She also discusses what the patient can expect during their hospital stay, what goals the surgeon would like the patient to achieve prior to discharge, pain management, infection prevention, and planning for a safe discharge and successful outcome.
“We believe all of this does lead to better outcomes. When a patient understands what is involved in the total joint surgery and is prepared prior to surgery, it allows them to be confident and successful. The patient's surgeon, myself, and the orthopedic care team are all here to help the patient understand and navigate the total joint process,” assures Keller.
Mitigating COVID-19’s Interruption
COVID-19 required shifts in hospital protocol, which impacted patients undergoing orthopedic procedures. Prior to the virus, Pullman Regional’s open visitor policy allowed the orthopedic team to provide education and prepare family members prior to discharge. COVID-19 changed all that. But, with the personal coordination services, Keller and the rest of the team members were able to optimize patient care.
“We had to modify our visitor policy. We've had several patients who we were able to bring closure to before we sent them home. We could feel good that the patient was going to be safe and successful at home after leaving the hospital,” shares Keller.
If patients aren’t interested in the individual care coordination option, they can access the total joint replacement class held online via the Pullman Regional Hospital website.
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