Cooley Dickinson's Excellent Joint Replacement Program
Put This Patient's Mind At Ease
Gaylord Saulsberry of Amherst was impressed with the totally cohesive experience Cooley Dickinson provided him with in its total Joint Replacement Center last December.
Mr. Saulsberry had his left knee replaced on Dec. 15, 2008, and says, for major surgery, the experience was remarkably calming, and he notes that the quality of care in the Joint Replacement Center was excellent and the program itself well-designed. "From the very beginning – the invitation, the orientation, the tour of the center – it just put one's mind at ease," he says.
Mr. Saulsberry attended an orientation session and tour of the center several days before his surgery and was put at ease by all the information he received regarding what to expect, the extent of potential complications, the center's work to prevent infections and even an outline of what each of the four days spent in the center would be like. "I knew exactly what was going to happen and who was in charge," he says. "It was a really positive experience."
Mr. Saulsberry, 63, lives in Amherst with his wife, Janet. He is formerly the principal at Amherst Regional High School, where he also served as a teacher until 2000. He was an administrator at Minnechaug Regional High School until 2003 and is currently a professor of history at Holyoke Community College.
An avid walker, Mr. Saulsberry says with a smile and sigh both that his former knee problem was age-related and not the result of a sports injury.
To help ease Mr. Saulsberry's discomfort, Dr. Henry Drinker performed meniscus surgery in April 2007 prior to the joint replacement, and Mr. Saulsberry says last winter, Dr. Drinker presented him with the choice to try another meniscus surgery or do a total joint replacement. Mr. Saulsberry felt the major surgery would be an eventual outcome, so he decided to forge ahead and learn as much as possible about what to expect, and the December procedure was planned.
Dr. Drinker had also operated on Mr. Saulsberry's shoulder twice, and Mr. Saulsberry knew his anesthesiologist as well – Dr. David Chernok – so he also felt very comfortable with the level of physician expertise.
Mr. Saulsberry says his surgery was on a Monday, and he was up and walking the next day, which he thought was "phenomenal." "It made it seem that everything was normal, everything was okay and that there was going to be a 100 percent recovery on the horizon," he adds.
Mr. Saulsberry loved the Joint Replacement Center's group approach to treatment. "It was helpful to do the exercises together, realizing whatever pain you're experiencing was not unique," he says.
The center's nurses were excellent at controlling patients' pain without making them incoherent, he says, noting that that skill is critical because it is what allows patients to work on making progress – sitting up, getting dressed, learning to walk with a walker.
Four days after his surgery, Mr. Saulsberry left Cooley Dickinson using crutches, but the excellent experience with Cooley Dickinson Hospital didn't end upon discharge. At home, Mr. Saulsberry had several helpful visits from staff at the Cooley Dickinson VNA, and then his physical therapy visits were at the hospital's Rehabilitation satellite office in Amherst on University Drive.
"Again," he says, "they were an extraordinary bunch of folks. They not only helped me with my knee but with some other medical issues that cropped up, including blood pressure and heart rate issues. They focused on the total person. I just got better and better. I lost the walker. I lost the cane. I lost the crutches."