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Excellent care before, during and after surgery

  • Russ Brackett

    A recent experience with knee replacement surgery confirmed something that Russ Brackett and his family have agreed on for many years: Abbott Northwestern is their hospital of choice.

    The experience began several weeks before Brackett was scheduled for surgery. He and his wife, Fay, attended a class about preparing for joint surgery. It explained what they should expect at each stage of recovery and encouraged participants to enlist the help of a coach - a friend or family member who would support and motivate them after surgery.

    Brackett also received a notebook with detailed information about his upcoming surgery. "I went through the whole thing and highlighted different sections. When my wife learned that she would be my coach, she went through it too and caught up with everything I had learned."

    Next came the day of surgery. Everything went as planned until they met with the anesthesiologist before surgery. She was concerned because Brackett's blood pressure was high and she saw a change on his electrocardiogram (EKG) compared to one that had been done 11 months earlier.

    Brackett could not be cleared for surgery until he saw a cardiologist. Fortunately, he later learned that the EKG abnormality was not harmful and his surgery was rescheduled. Despite the change in plans, Brackett and his wife were glad to know that the surgical team was focused on his well-being, not just the surgery schedule.

    Because Abbott Northwestern does so many joint replacement procedures - about 1,000 a year - the Joint Replacement Center has been able to fine-tune its services to help patients recover from surgery as quickly and as comfortably as possible.

    For example, after surgery, Brackett was cared for in a unit that specializes in joint replacement. "They did a very good job of keeping my pain under control after surgery," said Brackett. He even had acupuncture while in the hospital, which helped him relax and fall asleep after a physical therapy session.

    "We also had physical therapy as a group, and I thought that was a real plus. Instead of working alone in a room with a therapist, you were with a group," said Brackett. "You can talk with people in the same situation and learn from each other. It's very worthwhile."

    Brackett also was impressed with the nurses who cared for him. "They are so supportive and very knowledgeable about what you are dealing with."

    Ten weeks after surgery, Brackett's knee was almost completely healed. He hadn't had any pain for more than month and had no restrictions on his activity. "It's like the surgery never happened," he said. "I feel very positive."