April 25, 2022

Patient Experience Week: Personalized Care After Joint Replacement Surgery

At Central Indiana Orthopedics, our team is dedicated to providing compassionate and expert care to each patient. We want to say THANK YOU to all of our team members, front line and behind the scenes, for working together every day to create a positive experience for our patients.

In honor of Patient Experience Week, we would like to spotlight the personalized experience that our total joint patients can expect when having a joint replacement at our outpatient surgery centers.

Natalie McClintick, Nurse Practitioner, has a very unique role at Central Indiana Orthopedics. Prior to joining CIO, she worked at a local hospital for 20 years in orthopedics where she coordinated the care of CIO’s surgical patients and taught a total joint class for patients undergoing a joint replacement. Being this involved in the patient’s care prior to surgery, Natalie developed a relationship with each patient and their family.

Natalie shared with us how she first recognized a gap in care after patients were discharged from the hospital. “The patient didn’t really have anyone to call and ask questions after they went home,” Natalie shared. “The patient receives a great amount of information regarding wound care, activity and medications upon discharge, and they are also most likely under the influence of narcotic pain medication.” It became obvious to Natalie that even though the same information was heard prior to surgery and upon discharge, it wasn’t enough – patients were still overwhelmed.

There would be times when Natalie would call a patient a few days after they left the hospital, and she would ask if they had any questions about their discharge instructions. What Natalie thought the patient had previously heard and understood was nowhere close to what they absorbed. After patients went home, they were confused about who to contact if they had questions or concerns. This sparked a desire in Natalie to be that “one person” patients could contact with questions or concerns at any time during recovery.

Care That Goes With You

At Central Indiana Orthopedics, Natalie’s role is an elevated extension of what she was doing in the hospital setting as a Nurse Practitioner. Natalie’s goal is to streamline care and support the patient and their family before and after surgery. To accomplish this goal, Natalie makes an introduction soon after the patient decides to have a joint replacement in one of CIO’s outpatient surgery centers. From there, Natalie is with the patient and their family every step of the way. Before surgery, patients receive one-on-one joint education from Natalie, usually via telephone, but sometimes a home visit can be coordinated to ensure the patient’s home environment is prepped for the recovery process. Natalie will also call the night before surgery to ensure the patient doesn’t have any last-minute questions. After surgery, patients receive a bracelet with Natalie’s name and contact information on it so they can call her 24/7 with any questions or concerns during recovery. Patients also receive a call from Natalie the evening of their surgery to ensure they understand their discharge instructions.

The phone number goes directly to Natalie’s cell phone. “Patients call me with questions and are always surprised when a nurse practitioner answers,” said Natalie. “Nine o’clock at night, ten o’clock at night, they can be reassured that I’ll be there for them to answer a simple question and provide them peace of mind. It’s a blessing to our patients.” If Natalie feels like the patient needs to be evaluated, she can drive to their home or meet them at the office to assess them. If they are having a medical concern and not an orthopedic concern, Natalie can assist them in calling their primary care physician’s office if she feels like they need to be seen urgently.

From medical concerns to dressing changes to specific questions about what can or cannot be done during recovery, Natalie is with our outpatient total joint patients every step of the way.

Natalie likes calling this experience “orchestrated care” because each patient is unique and requires careful planning to conduct the entire journey. “I know the patient before surgery, I check on them after surgery and my voice is familiar to them,” Natalie said. “I think it’s reassuring to the patient that we’re checking on them.” Having a plan in place helps not only the patient, but also their family to prepare and feel more comfortable after surgery. Natalie is in constant communication with the patient’s surgeon to ensure everyone is on the same page and any concerns are addressed.

“I love being their cheerleader and caregiver all in one,” Natalie said. “There are several patients that I’ve stayed on the phone with while they walk outside just to make sure they’re okay. Knowing that I’m on the phone with them has given them the courage to walk a little bit further and take some extra steps.”

Learn more about Natalie’s role and the experience she provides in the video below, or visit https://ciocenter.com/services/outpatient-surgery/.