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Orthopedic Joint Center Changes Lives

Patient Stories


Date: May 24, 2007

Contact: Anthony Stahl
Director HR/Marketing
Howard Memorial Hospital

Willits - "I can't bear the pain anymore," grimaced Mary Kingsborough as she cautiously slipped into her car. "I need to get something done to my knee. If it gets worse I won't be able to live alone or care for the house or garden." The thought of losing her independence made her shudder.

Mary was sure she would have to look for a specialist in a large metropolitan area such as San Francisco to care for her. She dreaded leaving her home in Redwood Valley to undergo treatments and possible surgery. "I want to stay in the area, but is there a specialist who can really take care of my knee problems?" Mary wondered. She began asking people in her neighborhood about orthopedic specialists. Not having lived in the area for most of her life, Mary was not familiar with the medical community in Mendocino County.

"You've got to see Dr. Bill Bowen at Howard Memorial Hospital in Willits," was the common response from friends and family. "He's the best. Talk about a wonderful doctor! It's a friendly place."

After hearing so much about Dr. Bowen, Dr. Stephen Gunther and the Orthopedic Joint Center, Mary took the step to have her knee examined. That step began a journey that 15 to 20 patients begin each month at the Orthopedic Joint Center of Northern California at Howard Memorial Hospital.

Once she was diagnosed for a knee operation Mary was contacted by Julia Campana, the Joint Care Coordinator. Julia invited her to attend a 1 hour training session. "We call our patients athletes," said Campana with a smile. Each athlete chooses a coach who stands by their side from pre-op to post-op.

"Our program is very special," commented Julia. "Our goal is to bring the athletes back to complete mobility and independence. We provide training, a guide book, and follow-up by telephone."

After surgery the athletes start their transition back to normal life. The first three days are spent in the hospital learning about the exercises and lifestyle changes necessary to bring about a speedy recovery. An important feature is the extended Coumadin therapy and tracking program to prevent blood clots.

Two months after surgery athletes are invited back to Howard Memorial Hospital with their coaches to have a luncheon reunion with fellow athletes, Dr. Bowen, Dr. Gunther, staff and the Administration.

Mary attended a recent reunion not as an athlete, but this time as a coach. With tears in her eyes she said "I feel great. I'm amazed at the difference."

With a faraway look in her eyes she said, "I love the people who took care of me. They are so great. I've never been to a hospital where there is so much follow-up."

"This is really satisfying work," said Julia, "to know we are helping to change lives and achieve good outcomes for people."