GREAT NECK, NY – Last week, orthopaedic surgeons at the North Shore-LIJ Health System’s Franklin and Southside hospitals provided free joint replacements to residents from three Long Island towns as part of Operation Walk USA 2011, a program that arranges hip and knee surgeries for uninsured patients.
Millions of Americans suffer from joint pain that may require joint replacement during their lifetime, and each year more than 900,000 hip and knee replacements are performed in the US. However, many patients in need of joint replacements forego surgeries because they lack insurance and can’t afford to pay out of pocket. Since 1994 Operation Walk, a globally successful effort that has sought to provide free orthopedic procedures to patients in need, has improved the lives of more than 6,000 patients in developing countries.
Building on the international success of Operation Walk, The Hip Society, The Knee Society, and the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons have collaborated to form Operation Walk USA. Now in its second year, the program arranged for pro bono surgery, hospitalization, and pre- and post-operative care to more than 55 patients at 23 hospitals in 15 different states during the two-day span. Franklin Hospital in Valley Stream and Southside Hospital in Bay Shore performed joint replacement surgeries on three patients, who should be back on their feet for the holidays. Both hospitals are part of the North Shore-LIJ Orthopaedic Institute, combining the orthopedic programs of several facilities to provide state-of-the-art care for the entire spectrum of musculoskeletal disorders.
“Through Operation Walk USA 2011 we are providing early holiday gifts to patients, renewing their ability to walk beside their family members into the new year.” said Southside Hospital executive director Winifred Mack, RN. “We’re participating in a groundbreaking cause that is rewarding for all those involved,” added Franklin Hospital executive director Joseph Manopella. “Those who suffer from debilitating joint pain but were unable to afford care can at last find relief.”
At Franklin Hospital on December 2, Giles R. Scuderi, MD, vice president of orthopaedic services for the North Shore-LIJ Health System, performed revision knee replacement on a 52-year-old Long Beach resident, who was in constant pain and dreams of the day when he can dance with his wife again; the patient is self-employed and does not have health insurance. At Southside Hospital on December 3, orthopaedic surgeons Fred D. Cushner, MD, chief of orthopaedic surgery at Southside, and John A. Saugy, MD, provided knee replacements, due to osteoarthritis and injury, to 61- and 62-year-old residents of Bay Shore and West Islip, respectively.
The surgeons and the hospitals covered all medical costs, including: pharmacy expenses, pre- and post-surgical care services (acute inpatient rehabilitation, admitting, case management, discharge planning, nursing, operating room, post-anesthesia care, same-day surgery, social work). Additional rehabilitation services were provided by the North Shore-LIJ Orzac Center for Rehabilitation, North Shore-LIJ’s Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation Services (STARS), Southside’s Outpatient Rehabilitation, and the North Shore-LIJ Home Care Network. Also providing services were Orthopaedic Physician Assistant Services, North American Partners in Anesthesia (NAPA, North Shore-LIJ’s provider of anesthesia services) and Great South Bay Anesthesia Associates. Device manufacturers Biomet, DePuy, Smith & Nephew, Stryker and Zimmer donated the hip and knee implants, and Nike provided a pair of new shoes for each patient.
Drs. Cushner and Saugy said they saw patients suffering from knee pain who they knew they could help, but due to the patients’ individual circumstances, they could not afford the surgeries and have been living with the daily frustrations of being unable to take a walk, tend to their homes or sometimes even get through a full day of work. “Along with the volunteer efforts of staff, hospitals and other post-acute care facilities involved with Walk USA, we are giving patients who suffer from such painful debilitating joint disease a new lease on life,” said Dr. Scuderi.