Greg Nemez's Story
Greg Nemez had suffered years of debilitating arthritis in his knees. A lifelong athlete, Greg’s pain not only limited his mobility, but was also negatively affecting his quality of life.
“The pain was affecting me on a daily basis – physically and mentally,” he reflected in frustration. “I knew I needed a new knee.”
When he was told he was eligible for the outpatient joint replacement program at Women’s College Hospital, he was shocked. “The fact that I could be home from the hospital in less than one day was fabulous,” marveled Greg.
In Canada, the average length of stay for a knee replacement surgery is 3 to 4 days. But, with a combination of state-of the- art surgical and anesthetic techniques and an innovative new virtual care app, the outpatient program at WCH is transforming joint replacement – and allowing patients to recover from the comfort of home.
Spearheaded by Dr. David Urbach, surgeon-in-chief and medical director of perioperative services at the hospital, the program was driven by a mandate to develop system solutions to improve health services country-wide. By reducing the length of stay in hospital, the program is freeing up much needed hospital beds and has the potential to save the healthcare system over $31 million each year.
With the right supports, patients can avoid hospitalization after joint replacement. The program at WCH has revolutionized the way anesthesia and pain management is delivered, therefore reducing the nausea and dizziness that often keeps patients in hospital post-surgery. To monitor their recovery from home, patients are equipped with a tablet that replicates the care they would receive while in hospital – reminders to take their medication, monitoring of pain levels and, most importantly, a direct connection to their healthcare team.
Before undergoing surgery, Greg was introduced to his post-operative care team and he saw them again on the day of his procedure. They became familiar faces and once he returned home with his new knee, he felt comfortable and fully connected to them.
“We’re not using technology to replace human contact. In fact, we’re using technology to enhance human contact,” says Dr. Dan Cornejo Palma, the surgical resident who was involved in developing the mobile technology. “We’ve learned the new skill of how to delivery care virtually; how to reassure patients that they’re ok and how to provide a level of high-touch care that hadn’t existed before.”
Greg agrees that he always knew his care team was available, “They were so attentive both while I was in the hospital and once I’d returned home. I could tell they really cared and that was important.”
He also has advice to share with other patients who are suffering from similar immobility and joint pain: “Don’t wait. There are programs out there that can get you back to your life faster. Talk to your healthcare provider to see what your options are and whether you qualify for something like this. I feel like I got my life back!”