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The 'Joy' of Hospitalization at Specialty Surgical Care

Orthopedic spine surgeon Louis Rappoport, MD, with patient Sherri Miller
Orthopedic spine surgeon Louis Rappoport, MD, with patient Sherri Miller in the entrance to North Mountain's Specialty Surgical Care area.

When was the last time you heard someone positively bubble about being hospitalized?

It may not be something you'd normally expect to hear, but it's something that is becoming almost commonplace among patients who've recovered from surgery at John C. Lincoln's new Specialty Surgical Care at North Mountain Hospital.

"The room was wonderful," said spine patient Sherri Miller, who spent five days in the new hospital area in January. "The people at the hospital were fantastic, so caring. The nurses were happy and friendly. The food was good and they went out of their way to be sure to find something you liked.

Specialty Surgical Care charge nurse Erin Kennedy, RN, MSN, talks with a patient
Specialty Surgical Care charge nurse Erin Kennedy, RN, MSN, talks with a patient in her room about her care.

"Everything was really good," Miller said. The renovated third floor at North Mountain Hospital was designed to facilitate healing, enhance clinical collaboration and transform the patient experience. It is designated for orthopedic, neurology, spine and urology surgery patients. Miller had back surgery, performed by orthopedic surgeon Louis Rappoport, MD. "I was referred to Dr. Rappoport because my back was really bothering me again," Miller said.

"I had back surgery in 1998 when they fused part of my lower spine. That helped for a while, but a couple of years ago my back and legs started hurting again. Finally, I just got tired of taking pain pills and decided to have the problem fixed surgically."

It is possible that the earlier surgery put stress on the adjacent vertebrae in the back, Dr. Rappoport observed. "Sharon had evidence of spinal stenosis — narrowing of the spinal column — that was complicated by what I would call mild to moderate scoliosis, curvature of the spine," Dr. Rappoport said. "She also had some degenerative disc disease and degenerative arthritis."

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All of these factors made it important to stabilize her spine with rods and screws, as well as fusing the spinal vertebrae in her lower back, located adjacent to her first surgery, Dr. Rappoport said. "The surgery went well," Dr. Rappoport said, "and the new Specialty Surgical Care also helped."

"One advantage of Specialty Surgical Care is that it makes is easier for family to be with the patient," Dr. Rappoport said. "Every one of my patients has been pleased with the Specialty Surgical Care experience, and I have had more than 20 patients there since it opened just a couple of months ago."

"Not that I wanted any more surgery," Miller said with a smile, "but after being home for a couple of days, I almost wanted to go back, just for the attention. Since my family all had to work, I just wasn't getting that at home.

"I hope everyone else has as good an experience at your hospital as I did," Miller added. "It certainly helps for the next time you are admitted to a hospital — not to be so apprehensive about going."

"All About People"

Louis Rappoport, MD, and patient Sherri Miller review X-rays of Miller's spine
Louis Rappoport, MD, and patient Sherri Miller review X-rays of Miller's spine, which Dr. Rappoport surgically repaired at John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital.

North Mountain's elegant Specialty Surgical Care was architecturally and technologically designed to combine national best practices, systems, ideas and features pioneered in other units throughout both John C. Lincoln Hospitals.

No wonder the staff loves working there. But when you ask them what they like best about working in the new area, their answers may surprise you.

"It's all about the people," said Judy Bernhardt, RN, Specialty Surgical Care's clinical director. "I enjoy most working with a very caring staff. No request is too large or too small — from the patient's first moments with us through the end of their stay, the details of nursing care are important so the patient has a positive outcome from their time with us.

"Patients expect the nursing staff to be competent, which we are," Bernhardt added, "but they find that staff takes our care standards seriously. We have compassion for our patients and collaborate with them to create recovery goals for every shift.

Specialty Surgical Care Video
Video: See how Specialty Surgical Care is designed to have an atmosphere of caring, comfort and convenience — for patients and their loved ones.

"Everybody loves the fresh newness around here," said charge nurse Stacey Holtorf, RN, "but what's really wonderful is the team. Many of us knew each other before Specialty Surgical Care opened, so we already had common goals for great patient care."

"I like the interaction with patient families," said Fred Nelson, RN. "We provide a high degree of education for patients and their families that expedites the transfer of patients from hospital care here to their home setting.

"What I like best is seeing the way the patients react to the care they've had," said unit secretary Desiree Sarkis.

"They recover in a quiet place where they can get their physical therapy without traveling all over the hospital. They're really happy they've been here."

"I like the close collaboration between the surgeons, the physical therapists and our patient care team members," Nelson added. "We have such a good team in our unit," said Rita Fasching, RN. "Everyone helps each other whenever needed, no matter whose patient it is. We're here for each other."

Specialty Surgical Care is designated for orthopedic, neurology, spine and neurology patients.

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