Senior Focus at
Abington – Lansdale Hospital
Back on the Fast Track Following a Hip Fracture
The first thing Caroline Erdman felt when she slipped on the grass while taking her daily walk was a bubble of laughter. “The fall knocked the breath out of me, but I thought it was funny,” the Lansdale resident recalls. “but then I got to my feet, and my right hip couldn’t take the weight, and I fell again. That’s when I knew I was in trouble.”
The second thing she felt was irritation. “Suddenly, I was the ‘I’ve fallen…and I can’t get up!’ lady,” she says. “What a cliché!”
But Caroline is no cliché. At age 91½, she’s more active than many people half her age – swimming, walking, going to lunch and the theater with friends, and playing duplicate bridge in two groups. She’d just gotten her hair and nails done to get ready for a concert that night. She was looking forward to a family cruise to Alaska. But on that day in September 2014, her first priority became recovering from a hip fracture.
Abington – Lansdale Hospital was ready to help with the geriatric fracture Program, a streamlined, accelerated system of care for fracture patients who are over age 65.
Research shows that patients who are evaluated and treated quickly after a hip fracture have better outcomes. “Historically, however, older patients take longer to get to the operating room and spend a longer time in recovery,” says June Weise, RN, administrative director of the Orthopaedic and Spine Institute at Abington – Jefferson Health. She notes that older patients might be on medications that prohibit them from having surgery performed within an expedited time frame, and they may have traumatic or chronic illnesses that potentially delay surgery and rehabilitation. The goal of the Geriatric Fracture Program is to address these issues, repair the fracture and rehabilitate patients as quickly as possible. Ms. Weise notes that all patients over 65 who are generally healthy, like Caroline, are automatically enrolled, but since the program describes a system of coordinated care, rather than a particular place, it is usually seamless to patients.
In Caroline’s case, it took three days before she was stable enough to have the surgery that replaced the ball portion of her ball-and-socket joint. The procedure, which was performed by orthopaedic surgeon Gregory G. Gallant, MD, was done under spinal anesthesia rather than general anesthesia, which helped avoid complications such as grogginess, nausea and delirium. “I woke up feeling wonderful,” Caroline recalls.
She started physical and occupational therapy the very next day, inspired by pictures of her apartment that her daughter, Debra, had hung up in her room. “I wanted to go home, not to a long-term care facility, and seeing those photos really helped,” she says.
After two weeks, Caroline did indeed return home. “During a follow-up home visit with the physical therapist, Mom broke the speed record for walking across the room,” Debra recalls. “That’s when we all knew she was good to go.”
In July, Caroline set out with her family for Alaska. Her 18-day trip included stops in Fairbanks and Denali, as well as an Anchorage-based ocean cruise and a three-day visit to Vancouver to top things off. She kept pace with her energetic family, including her 17- and 21-yearold granddaughters, and had a wonderful time whale watching, river rafting and taking in the breathtaking scenery. “It was absolutely marvelous,” she says.
I want to thank Dr. Gallant, my nurse Maureen Bradley, my physical therapist Gerry Schredl, and all of the Abington – Lansdale staff who supported me in my recovery,” she adds. “If I can do it at 91, I hope to encourage others to do the same.”