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Taking Steps to Give Back

Joint replacement surgery was not unfamiliar to Sue McCarthy. In 2009, she had gone through a total right knee replacement and was scheduled to have her left knee replaced in October 2010. Though the procedure would be the same, Sue knew that this time, the recovery process would be different.

“While I was in the hospital after the right knee replacement surgery, I made the mistake of not pushing the hospital staff to look into Marianjoy on my behalf,” she explained. “Though I told them it was where I wanted to go, they said that it probably wouldn’t be possible to get in because of how popular Marianjoy’s program is for this type of rehabilitation. So, I didn’t push it any further. Instead, they referred me to their own rehabilitation program as an outpatient.”

Though she attended all of her therapy sessions regularly, she didn’t feel that her recovery went as well or as quickly as it could have. After her second surgery however, Sue insisted that the hospital staff contact Marianjoy so she could receive her rehabilitation there. Upon arriving at Marianjoy, Sue immediately knew she had made the right decision.

“The minute you arrive, you feel welcome,” she noted. “The facility is beautiful and having a private room really made a difference for me. But even more positive than the facility, amenities or atmosphere, are the people who work here. They are all so warm and respectful. Everyone smiles and has something pleasant to say, even if it’s just a simple ‘hello’.”

Sue also noticed that her time in therapy was different then her first rehabilitation experience.  “Though I arrived in a wheelchair, the therapists had me up and using a walker my first day,” she describes. “Each day I would walk farther and farther. My physical and occupational therapists worked every muscle in my body. I knew the sessions were very productive as I could see myself improving very quickly. I also really appreciated the team asking me for input—my goals and what I wanted to accomplish. We worked together as partners in my healing process.”

Sue was encouraged to make the most of her therapy.  Not only was she working on walking but also on a variety of other activities to help transition back home after surgery. With the help of her occupational therapist, Sue worked in the Activities of Daily Living (ADL) apartment, which is set up similar to a home. It was there she practiced maneuvering around the kitchen, using the various appliances, and even doing laundry as she strengthened her new knee.

“They certainly don’t allow you to just sit around and watch,” she says with a smile. “Every exercise, every activity had a purpose and each session was very productive. After only eight days as an inpatient, I was ready to be discharged to outpatient therapy. I left the hospital walking unassisted—without the use of any type of equipment. It was wonderful.”

On her first day in outpatient therapy, Sue discussed her ongoing goals with her physical therapist. They included being able to walk long distances without pain, getting in and out of the car easier, and climbing stairs.

“Outpatient therapy at Marianjoy is completely different than my experience a year ago at the other facility,” she confirms. “Back then, my therapy session consisted of pedaling a stationary bike and being handed sheets of exercises to do at home. Rarely did I receive any one-on-one instruction. But at Marianjoy, it became very apparent that during my sessions, I was the sole focus. My therapist pushed me to do more and more each time I came. Each appointment was structured so that I was given different activities and exercises to continue getting stronger.”

In November 2010, Sue was discharged from the outpatient program.

Sue laughs, “I never thought I’d say this but I’m going to miss coming for therapy! The care I received at Marianjoy was tremendous. It’s obvious that the staff embrace the values of this organization—respect, excellence and integrity. They really went beyond my expectations. A simple example is a male nurse I had while I was an inpatient. When he changed the bandage on my knee, he would always put his initials on the bandage. I thought that was such an original idea but it was obviously because he took great pride in his work.”

As Sue notes, her time spent at Marianjoy is not over yet.

“I am so thrilled with the care I received I’ve decided to come back and volunteer,” she affirms. “I would like to be a peer mentor, talking to others and relaying my experience and hopefully giving them encouragement to put everything into their rehabilitation so they too can recover quickly. I would really like to give back in appreciation for the care that was given to me.

“I just can’t say enough about Marianjoy. It’s obvious that God has a hand in the work that is done here.”