An orthopedic and neurosurgery unit opened Wednesday at Mercy Gilbert Medical Center, which will offer the Valley’s first joint camp.
The concept is meant to use a camp dynamic — including T-shirts and challenges — to encourage and prepare patients for hip or knee surgery and to help them recover more quickly.
Patients who opt for a knee or hip replacement can join the camp about six weeks prior to surgery, where they will get help exercising muscles to ensure quicker recovery, and practice using arm muscles for walkers or other aids, if they will be necessary.
“It’s been shown in studies that patients who do six or four weeks of exercise (prior to their operation) have a 74 percent chance of not requiring rehabilitation,” said Denise McGinley, registered nurse and director of the unit.
It’s particularly important, she said, as joint injuries are expected to increase dramatically as baby boomers age.
The only other hospital in Arizona with a joint camp is in Flagstaff. There are only about a dozen nationwide, McGinley said.
The new unit is the first to open in the hospital’s second wing, which will increase total beds at the hospital from 92 to 178 by February.
The orthopedic and neurosurgery unit includes 28 beds, and will focus on minimally invasive joint replacements. Doctors at the hospital will use robotic equipment to help ensure tendons aren’t injured as the joint is replaced — also meant to speed healing.
The new unit will also be home for care of neurological and brain injuries or disorders. It is currently serving as a surgical unit as well, until the hospital’s new surgery unit opens Feb. 4, alongside the hospital’s new pediatric unit. On Jan. 21, the hospital will also double the number of its intensive care unit beds, to 24 from a current 12.
Ruth Kruger, 72, of Mesa was the first patient treated in the new wing, which she said will provide much-needed service to aging area residents, including patients she cares for as a part-time nurse at a Chandler senior home.
“This was truly a good experience,” she said, just hours after having a hysterectomy.