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This past winter, Karen’s hip pain was rapidly worsening. Walking short distances became excruciating and, by February, just heading a few blocks to the grocery store caused difficulty.

Consulting with her orthopedic surgeon, Dr. William Petersen of Virginia Hospital Center, Karen learned that the blood supply to her hip was compromised and that her condition would continue to deteriorate. Hip joint replacement surgery, Petersen explained, would be necessary.

“I told my family and friends I never thought I’d say I was looking forward to surgery, but I was.” Karen says.

Then, the pandemic got in the way. As such, hospitals had to put all elective surgeries on hold.

Karen continued to have appointments with Dr. Petersen, sometimes virtually, through Telehealth Visits. “Our practice used Telehealth frequently in the midst of the pandemic and continues to do so,” Petersen says. “However, orthopedics is really hands-on medicine, and there are times when our patients need to come for in-person visits. That’s why everyone in my practice wears masks and practices social distancing. We do temperature checks and screen all patients before they enter the office.”

When, in mid-May, Virginia Hospital Center (VHC) got the green light to schedule elective surgeries, Karen was at the top of Dr. Petersen’s list. “VHC has one of the best strategies in our region to keep surgical patients safe,” Petersen says. “All patients receive a rapid-result test for COVID-19 the day of their surgery and stay-in units separate from COVID-19 patients.”

“Understanding VHC’s safety precautions made it easy for me to decide to proceed,” says Karen. “My surgery was scheduled for May 22nd at 7:30 A.M. I arrived at the hospital at 5:00 A.M., when I was asked screening questions, had my temperature taken, and I received a rapid-result test.”

Within 30 minutes, the test confirmed Karen was negative for COVID-19 and the hospital cleared her for surgery.

Initially, Karen was concerned that her husband could not be with her at the hospital due to current visitor restrictions. “Still, as my spouse and caregiver, he was very impressed with how the hospital and Dr. Petersen communicated with him every step of the way. When I arrived at the hospital, I gave hospital registration his mobile number. My husband felt reassured when he started getting a series of texts—after I checked in, when I arrived in pre-op, then in surgery, and later in recovery. And when I was settled into my room, Dr. Petersen also called my husband to let him know how surgery went.”

After the anterior hip joint replacement surgery, Karen was in her private room by mid-day. “By 1:00 P.M., the physical therapist came to visit,” she says, “and I was walking down the hall.”

Karen was back home the next day by noon. Within a week, she no longer needed a walker, was walking 8,000 steps a day, and only needed a cane for a few more weeks.

“Karen’s hip function is now close to pre-disease status," Petersen says. “She is on her way to resuming her normal, active lifestyle.”

While much of Karen’s surgery prep was done remotely from home, “It was very comprehensive,” she says. “I was given an instruction manual and video about hip replacement. I had two pre-op phone screenings with the practice and the hospital, which were very thorough and answered all my questions. As a result, I didn’t have any concerns about scheduling my surgery at the time. I felt safe throughout the entire process.”

To learn more about how Virginia Hospital Center is putting safety first, click here.

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