'Lowest Infection Rate Around'
Easthampton woman chooses Cooley Dickinson Joint Replacement Center after comparison
Madeline Hunter of Easthampton was an avid runner and an active woman in general until arthritic pain in her right knee began to slow her down about 10 years ago. She stopped running then, but she didn't succumb to joint replacement surgery until last winter, when, at 59, she was using a cane and her mobility was severely impeded.
Madeline decided then – several years after Dr. Jonathan Kurtis of Hampshire Orthopedics first recommended surgery – that her "magical thinking" that the pain could be controlled some other way had to change.
Making the decision to have her knee replaced in Cooley Dickinson Hospital's Joint Replacement Center changed her life.
Each morning, Madeline can now be found walking around her neighborhood, on one of several favorite routes, wearing a pedometer. She can walk two and a half to three miles per day, but her goal is to put in five miles each morning. A retired teacher, Madeline is also taking occasional hikes in the woods. She can kayak more easily out on the Connecticut River. And climbing stairs no longer presents a challenge. "I catch Madeline Hunter
myself thinking, ‘I can do this again,' " she says of activities that were off limits for so long.
"Every day is a miracle," says Madeline. "There is not one day since I've been able to move around that I have not thanked God and Cooley Dickinson. Everything is a joy.
"I truly, truly think the nursing staff in the Joint Replacement Center are beyond excellence," she adds. "They are superb. They are the kindest, most compassionate people I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with, and they have a sense of humor."
Madeline, who has been married for 40 years to her husband, William, has osteoarthritis, spondylitis – another form of arthritis – and a degenerative disc condition. The osteoarthritis is what damaged her right knee to the point where it was bone-on-bone.
For many years, Madeline tried dealing with the pain by taking such measures as attending a class at Cooley Dickinson on dealing with the pain of arthritis. She tried various injections, used braces and followed other advice from her rheumatologist, Dr. Lawrence Schiffman, and her primary care physician Dr. David Kaufman.
When she finally gave in to surgery with Dr. Kurtis, she didn't just choose Cooley Dickinson because it was her community hospital. She did extensive research, asking friends who are nurses and nurse practitioners. She learned that Cooley Dickinson's Joint Replacement Center had the lowest infection rate around, and she also liked learning that the facility was a separate hospital unit as she felt that also reduced the likelihood for infection.
On Feb. 9, 2009, Madeline underwent surgery and says, "The experience was unbelievable from admission to discharge. I thought the facility was something that was unbelievable, and I had been a patient at Mass General."
Madeline describes the staff she worked with as confident, compassionate, kind, swift to take action when necessary and "all-around meticulous in care." She thought the facility was clean, orderly, organized and "beautifully arranged."
"Everybody knew what they were supposed to be doing," she says. "Everything they provided for patients showed such insight into what people are feeling mentally and physically after a surgical procedure. I don't know who designed that program, but whoever it was should be praised. It just covered every single factor."
Madeline left Cooley Dickinson using a cane, and had even more contact with various Cooley Dickinson staff. She offers the following praise to them and others:
- A visiting nurse and physical therapist from VNA & Hospice of Cooley Dickinson, who came to Madeline's home for two weeks and was "lovely. Absolutely lovely."
- Joanne Berns, who Madeline visited at the hospital's Rehabilitation satellite office in Easthampton for physical therapy. "She was phenomenal. She knew I was determined to get full usage of that leg," she adds.
- Dr. Kurtis. "He did a tremendous job with my knee, and I have the utmost respect for the man," she says.
- Anne Ridabock, the clinical director for the Joint Replacement Center. "I loved Anne, and I thought her arthritis class was a great resource."