CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Joint Connection Program at Thomas Memorial Hospital nurtures the healing process through education, encouragement, and camaraderie.
As patients work through the recovery process of joint replacement, health officials and "coaches" are on hand to help.
The program began in March 2007, said Susan Owens, director of joint care services and joint care coordinator.
"I joined the Thomas Hospital health care team in 2006, and they had already hired a consultant to help me open the unit," said Owens, a registered nurse for 35 years.
Patients are kept in the unit away from the rest of the hospital to limit exposure to anyone who may be ill, she said. The unit is limited to patients undergoing surgery for joint replacement of hips, knees and shoulders.
The entire process begins with education and continues with physical therapy and determination.
"I tell them what to expect," Owens said. "I go over exercises to do before surgery and they get a guide book. I walk them through what to expect in the first 24 hours after total joint replacement. Normally, it flows well."
The hospital stay is generally 24 hours to three days. Physical therapy is done during the hospital stay as well as on an outpatient basis once patients go home. Therapy continues for about four weeks for three times a week.
Patients receive books listing exercises to be done before and after surgery.
Each patient has a friend or family member to serve as a coach during the entire process. The coach is included in the educational process, offers encouragement, and provides transportation.