Center for Joint Replacement marks 10 years

March 12, 2007

The Center for Joint Replacement at Washington County Hospital held a reception to celebrate its 10th anniversary Feb. 23 at Robinwood Medical Center. Physicians, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, and volunteers gathered to reconnect with more than 125 past patients and to thank the staff members who have been critical to the success of the program.

Joint replacement has long been a practice at Washington County Hospital but the Center for Joint Replacement officially opened 10 years ago. At that time, two surgeons, Dr. Tom Altizer and Dr. Ralph Salvagno, approached the hospital administration with the idea of a dedicated unit just for joint replacements. Extensive time and research went into determining the best practice for this center, and, in February 1997, the first group of patients came through the program.

The center provides a comprehensive program that includes pre and post operative therapy as well as surgery. Patients have a care manager and a team of professionals to guide them through the patient care program.


Additionally, patients go through the program with other patients who are having joint replacement surgery to provide peer support.

"Patients find the group support and encouragement they give and receive by going through the program together to be very beneficial," said Jeanni Moyer, program manager at Total Rehab Care.

The volunteers on the unit are previous joint replacement patients. They have returned to help other patients through the process, because who better to share what the program is about than a former patient?

"It enhances the experience for patients to talk to someone who has been there," said John Werking, who was a patient of the Center for Joint Replacement for a left hip replacement in April 2001. Werking volunteers for the program on Thursdays and said he has volunteered nearly 150 days to the program.

John Hetzer has twice been a patient of the center, each time for a knee replacement, and said that he often gets questions from patients about when they will be able to get back to normal activities. "It is a rewarding experience to volunteer, especially when I run into patients out living active lives after recovery," he said.

The program has a total of six volunteers, including Roseanne Grimm, who was a nurse at the hospital for more than 30 years and worked in the Center for Joint Replacement from the time it opened until she retired two years ago.

To date, the Center for Joint Replacement has performed more than 3,500 joint replacement surgeries.

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