Today’s joint replacement patients are more and more hip

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Passing out T-shirts are volunteer nurses Debbie Gullo of Mays Landing, left, and Trisha Geary of Northfield. At right is nurse Kim Allen, AtlantiCare Joint Institute coordinator.

GALLOWAY – Since having both knees replaced, Patricia Buck of Brigantine said she doesn’t get down on her hands and knees anymore scrubbing the floors.

But it’s not what she doesn’t do after her operations in 2000 and 2004 that’s remarkable – it’s what she does do.

“A year after the second operation I was climbing mountains in Honduras,” Buck said. “I walk and bike and do water aerobics.”

Hip and knee replacement surgeries are life changing, according to nurse Kim Allen of New Gretna, who is in her third year as Joint Institute coordinator at AtlantiCare.

“Our patient population is getting younger and younger,” Allen said after the 11th annual Joints in Motion Walk at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center’s Mainland Campus. “People didn’t want to have the operation because they thought it was painful, they were afraid of surgery or they couldn’t take time off.

“With the latest technology the recovery is faster, they have less pain and are returning to work sooner,” she said. “Patients are able to walk without walkers and resume normal activity in two to six weeks.”

Allen has set up a website, thejointinstitute.org, that features a pre-operative education class.

“They don’t have to come to the hospital to see the film,” she said. “They watch it at their convenience at home. We have the patient video and we’re doing an email newsletter with weekly updates.”

The thinking used to be that older people aren’t web savvy, she said. Now patients are younger and can’t necessarily get off work to come to classes.

Former patients loosen up before taking their half-mile walk. “And the older are savvy – sometimes better than us. They’re Skyping grandchildren.”

Does she have a problem lining up nurses to volunteer for the annual walk?

“Never,” Allen said. “They love to see the patients again. It’s a great event for patients and staff. It’s a celebration of life. They’ve overcome arthritis and have gotten back to an active lifestyle – doing what they’ve done before, without pain.”

She said she’s been a nurse for 14 years, all at the Joint Institute at AtlantiCare, which opened in 1997.

“The Joint Institute has grown significantly,” Allen said. “The first few years there were about 150 patients. Now we’re doing 1,600 joints a year. It’s hips and knees for the walk, but AtlantiCare does shoulders and many other procedures.”

More than 200 people who had full knee, partial knee, and hip replacements at the Joint Institute at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center walked Saturday with family members, friends and the doctors, nurses, physical therapists and other hospital staff who treated them.

Before the walk, there was a breakfast celebration under a large outdoor tent next to the Celebration of Life Walk to the left of the main hospital entrance.  

Participants received free T-shirts, chair massages and blood pressure screenings.

Staffing the registration desk are Joint Institute nurses volunteering on Saturday morning. From left are Diane Henry of Mays Landing, Faith Assink and her nurse mom Tina of Egg Harbor City and Julie Brown of North Cape May.

Patricia Buck of Brigantine with Joint Institute Medical Director Dr. Fred Dalzell.

Walkers head out, exercising new knees and hips.


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