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The philosophy of Joint University is unique. We support our patients with a wealth of educational materials and classes as well as unparalleled pre- and post-operative support. Our emphasis is teamwork.
Once the need for joint replacement has been ascertained, patients are introduced to Joint University at their doctor’s office and in pre-operative education classes. Here, doctors, the Joint University coordinator and care team members use videos, wall diagrams, brochures and patient guidebooks to teach patients what the surgery is all about, how it will impact them and what their role will be in their own recovery. Every attempt is made to set realistic expectations, put patients at ease and improve their level of confidence.
The Joint University care coordinator plays a very special role in the process. He or she is the link between the patient, the doctor and Weiss. In charge of Joint University’s daily operations, the care coordinator takes the lead in guiding the patient through the orchestrated process that begins in the surgeon’s office. Thanks to this process, patients and their families find they are active participants in the joint replacement and on a team with a common goal: recapturing the patient’s quality of life.
A Patient Guidebook, which patients receive at their doctor’s office, is an important tool, providing key patient information and answering many patient questions. The Guidebook provides specific instructions issued by the surgeon and the Joint University care team. It covers what patients should do and should expect before surgery, while in the hospital, during the stay at Joint University and after discharge.
Patients are instructed to bring the Guidebook to the hospital and to Joint University to keep vital information at their fingertips. It is also a tool that clinicians use to document patient progress during rehabilitation.
An integral component of the Joint University is having patients select a friend or family member to function as their coach. Coaches are trained throughout the entire process, side by side with patients. They provide moral support and encouragement every step of the way, contributing to rapid recovery.
The Joint University care team offers a two-hour pre-operative class in which patients and their coaches are instructed on pre-operative needs, introduced to the daily routine that will be expected of them on the unit and taught some pre-conditioning (strengthening) exercises to start before surgery in order to improve their outcomes. Discharge planning and preparing the home for safety, comfort and recovery of the patient are also covered here. The Joint University care team addresses many other pertinent issues, such as performing post-surgery strengthening exercises, dealing with post-operative complications and bringing in assistive devices for the home. Patients have the option of receiving their instruction online. It is mandatory that patients attend a live session OR watch the videos online.
Joint University, where patients stay after surgery, is located on the 4th floor of Weiss Memorial Hospital in a fully remodeled space. All patient rooms are private and most overlook Lake Michigan, providing hip and knee replacement surgical patients an environment that is pleasant and conducive to healing. All group therapy, lunches and other activities take place on this special unit, led by a dedicated care team chosen for their expertise and motivational skills.
Important for efficiency, standardized processes—orders, protocols and daily patient routine—assist the team in delivering all aspects of care in organized, anticipated incremental steps while creating a supportive environment based on teamwork.
Activities include group physical therapy twice a day in the fourth floor gym. Patients and their families benefit from each other’s camaraderie and support, which promotes faster healing and eliminates the “fear factor” associated with rehabilitation.
To assure faster recovery and better future mobility, it is vitally important that patients begin rehabilitation as quickly as possible. Consequently, patients already well prepared to begin the process—rise at 5:00 a.m. the day after surgery, dress in casual clothing and undergo their physical therapy evaluation as early as 7:00 a.m. They begin group physical therapy in the afternoon with a series of pumps, extensions and squeezes in a slow-paced aerobics class they can do in their orthopedic chairs. Family members and caregivers are encouraged to participate in these therapy sessions. This shared experience builds confidence and a support system, which contribute to successful outcomes. Coaches, whether spouses, significant others or friends, help “cheer lead” patients to rapid recovery.
Group physical therapy continues twice a day, and coaches become deeply involved in the treatment. The group activities lend to a friendly competitive environment; patients, in trying to win over one another, score big wins for themselves. The competition continues outside of group therapy as patients try to walk further than their teammates each day. A “Walk Chicago” ambulation board prominently displayed in a group area gives patients the opportunity to record their progress.
When patients and their coaches attend the discharge planning class, a nursing and the rehab care team educates them on post-op care. Patients and coaches are given a home exercise program designed to augment the strengthening and healing process. The length of post-operative stay for patients after a restorative joint procedure is one to three days, depending upon their progress with post-op physical therapy and their overall rate of recovery. The discharge goal of Joint University for patients having a restorative procedure is to go directly home by post-operative day two or three and receive outpatient physical therapy.
Weiss’ relationship with Joint University patients continues long after discharge. Continuing patient callbacks give Joint University staff the opportunity to monitor each patient’s progress to assure the excellent patient experience continues long after the patient has left the campus. Continuous improvement is a goal at Joint University, and the measurement of patient outcomes is integral to our success as well as theirs.