Shortly before the end of 2015, Little Falls Orthopedics (LFO) surgeons performed their 8,000th joint replacement procedure at St. Gabriel’s Hospital. A dedication to serving the orthopedic needs of patients in their own communities and a commitment to excellence in orthopedic surgery are just two of the many reasons behind the success of the orthopedic program at LFO and the hospital.
LFO, which was started by Dr. Virgil Meyer in 1982, has grown to five orthopedic surgeons with clinics in Little Falls, Long Prairie, Melrose, Sauk Centre, Albany and St. Cloud. The surgeons currently perform hundreds of total knee, hip and shoulder joint replacement procedures at St. Gabriel’s Hospital in Little Falls and at CentraCare Health – Sauk Centre.
“Shortly after Little Falls Orthopedics was founded, I began providing satellite clinic services in Long Prairie,” Dr. Meyer says. “The patients were very appreciative. They were glad they could receive orthopedic care in their own community. As our capacity grew and we successfully recruited additional surgeons, we were able to expand to other communities and are grateful for the opportunity to serve their needs. It’s been a mutually beneficial experience for all involved. The patients get the care they need in their own community, the local hospitals have more surgery performed in their own facilities and our surgeons are able to meet that demand.”
While not unheard of, having a center of excellence at a small, rural hospital like St. Gabriel’s Hospital is certainly unusual. The hospital appears to be one of only two facilities of its size in the U.S. to have five orthopedic surgeons on staff (the other is located in Wyoming).
“Our surgeons are superbly trained and have extensive experience in total joint replacement surgery, as well as other orthopedic surgical and nonsurgical care,” says Tracy VanHercke, LFO administrator. “The surgeons thoroughly evaluate their own patients preoperatively, routinely see them in the hospital during their stays, and follow their patients postoperatively for years. This is actually somewhat unusual among orthopedic practices and has led to one of the finest orthopedic surgery reputations in the state of Minnesota. Patients often come from as far away as 100 miles to have procedures performed at St. Gabriel’s Hospital due to this reputation. The small size of St. Gabriel’s Hospital allows the nursing and other staff to have extensive experience taking care of total joint patients.”
Bev Lundorff, a former teacher from Little Falls, is one patient who did her research and was glad she chose to have her joint replacement surgery at St. Gabriel’s Hospital. In fact, she has had hip replacement surgery on both hips in the last six months.
“I had hip dysplasia (abnormally shaped hip from birth) which was getting progressively worse,” Lundorff says. “For many years, I was able to do other things, like yoga, stretching, etc., which helped overcome the pain. Eventually the things which previously worked no longer helped. I decided to see Dr. Prosapio at Little Falls Orthopedics. I had heard good things about the surgeons at Little Falls Orthopedics and the care people received at St. Gabriel’s Hospital. Friends, family members, they were all very satisfied. Plus, I wanted to stay ‘local’ for my surgery.”
She met with Dr. Prosapio to discuss her options. She wasn’t interested in the long-term use of medications or injections to relieve her pain so surgery was an obvious choice.
“Together, Dr. Prosapio and I discussed the anterior hip approach to my total hip replacement surgery,” Lundorff recalls. “My mom also had hip replacement surgery using the anterior technique and she was very pleased with the results. I felt that with the shorter recovery time and the less pain typically involved that the anterior approach would be best for me as well. Dr. Prosapio also said I was a good candidate for that kind of hip replacement surgery.” She had her first hip surgery on Aug. 4. LFO surgeons are among the most experienced and first surgeons in central Minnesota to utilize the muscle-sparing anterior approach.
Her expectations proved true. “I was standing shortly after surgery and walking within 24 hours,” she says. “Everything went great. The nursing staff (St. Gabriel’s) really know how to take care of joint replacement patients.”
Dr. Prosapio agrees. “Hospitalized patients often comment that they appreciate having the same team take care of them during their entire hospital stay and, as a result, the nursing staff at St. Gabriel’s Hospital is well versed in the care of total joint replacement patients. In addition, the hospitalist internal medicine program at St. Gabriel’s allows complete medical coverage for hospitalized patients after a total joint replacement.”
He continues, “The latest orthopedic implants, technology, instrumentation, and radiologic equipment are keys to excellent clinical results. The surgical staff in the operating rooms are involved in hundreds of total joint replacements per year and therefore, have tremendous skill and anticipation during procedures. The continuity of care from the preoperative to the post-operative and eventual office follow-up settings make the orthopedic program highly specialized in primary and revision procedures. In addition, orthopedic patients are very well-prepared and educated about their care thanks to comprehensive clinic-based education and the hospital’s well-respected joint camp program.”
Lundorff’s confidence in total joint program at LFO and St. Gabriel’s Hospital appears to have been well-placed. Her first procedure went so well she had her other hip done Dec. 1. She expects to be back at her passions—traveling to warmer climates with Steve, her husband, and playing with grandchildren Ava, 4, and Aaron, 2—in the near future. “My grandkids keep asking me to come down on the floor and play with them,” she says. “I keep telling them it won’t be long.”
To schedule an appointment with any of the LFO surgeons–Drs. Virgil Meyer, Philip Prosapio, David Jorgensen, Paul Johnson or David Edgerton, call 320-631-2200.