ALTOONA, BLAIR COUNTY - Usually when you have a knee or hip joint replaced you spend three to five days in the hospital. What if you could stand up and walk not long after the operation, and go home the same day? You can, right here in our region.
Just a few hours ago, Rick Shaffer was in the operating room having his right hip joint replaced. Now, he's getting ready to go home. The Bedford man is one of 85 people who've undergone hip or knee replacement since last fall at the Advanced Center for Surgery in Altoona.
Orthopedic Surgeon Chris McClellan says, "most patients leave here approximately 3 hours after the operation which sometimes in a hospital you don't even get to your room in 3 hours."
Dr. McClellan says the program, one of the first of its kind on the east coast, has been given the green light by the State Health Department. He says the actual surgery is only one important part of it.
It also involves ultra-sound guided pain management. The nerve blocks, strategically placed, allow a patient to go home pain-free but alert and able to move.
Dave Berheimer is the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists responsible for pain management. He says, " it's still in its infancy, but to date it's proving to be something that's very exciting new technology for everybody in the country."
Dr. McClellan says the chance of an infection or a blood clot is much less and the procedure costs a third of what it would, if done in a hospital.
Rick gets up and walks just a few hours after his operation and says, "I'm feeling great. Feeling really great."
Patients get a visit by a physical therapist the day of surgery, and a check up from a home nurse.
The same day joint program is mostly reserved for patients 65 and under in good health.