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Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis and Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr Sam Martin catch up with Susan Roberston Halil and Sandy Van Veluewen following the ladies successful surgeries as part of the new pilot program which sees patients spend less time in hospital following procedures. Image: Contributed.

New patient program a joint effort

Patients requiring major joint replacements will be able to recover in the comfort of their own homes thanks to a new pilot program at Grafton Base Hospital. The only one of its kind throughout the Northern NSW Local Health District, the same day hip and knee replacement program, allows patients to undergo surgery and return home within 24 hours.

Patients Susan Roberston Halil and Sandy Van Veluewen were happy to be allowed to go home on the same day as their surguries at Grafton Base Hospital, following their participation in a new pilot program.

Orthopaedic surgeon and program leader Dr Sam Martin said the pilot program is based on research that suggests patients can have successful outcomes given the right care and support in their own home, without the added stress of a four to five day hospital stay, following joint replacement surgery.

Reduced time spent in hospital is also advantageous for patients amidst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

“There is compelling evidence that suggests a day stay joint replacement is safe with equal or better results compared to a longer hospital stay in terms of the patient’s return to function,” Dr Martin said.

“We also know that getting a patient moving again soon after surgery is shown to reduce their recovery time.

“Within three or four hours of the surgery, patients can begin moving under the care of our physiotherapy team, and they will remain in hospital for at least six hours before they go home.”

Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis met with Dr Martin and two patients who participated in the pilot program, Susan Roberston Halil and Sandy Van Veluewen, on September 3.

Describing the program as “revolutionary”, Mr Gulaptis also said he was most impressed with the work of Dr Martin and the team at Grafton Base Hospital and added it is “terrific to have the program available to patients in regional NSW.”

“The program allows patients to go into the hospital, have a new knee or hip put into place during surgery, followed by appropriate physiotherapy before they’re able to leave and convalesce at home,” he said.

“This limits their time in the hospital and also frees resources for other patients.

“The patients I met were really happy with their post-surgery progress and the program really reminded me how advanced modern medicine has become.”

One of the patients, Sandy Van Veluewen said it was “amazing” to be a part of the pilot program.

She said pre-operative checks made her feel confident as she knew she would only be in hospital for a day.

Dan Madden, Clarence Health Services General Manager, said patients will be supported through telehealth and face-to-face specialist care to review pain management and wound recovery, with patients also having regular physiotherapy sessions in the weeks following their surgery.

“This program really is the culmination of an outstanding team effort, from surgeons and anaesthetists, to nursing staff, and allied health staff who support the patients before and after surgery,” he said.

Many aspects contribute to a successful day stay total joint replacement, including a streamlined preoperative physiotherapy and education program, a focused operating theatre unit, tailored anaesthetic and surgical techniques and nursing by staff skilled in shorter stay surgery. 

The pilot is expected to run for six months. 

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