Knee and hip replacements are back to pre-pandemic levels at Virtua Health;
Patients feel safe and comfortable, thanks to thorough safety measures
(MARLTON and VOORHEES, N.J.) Betty Kucowski’s right knee had gotten so unstable that she felt unsafe using the stairs in her Chesterfield home. So, despite her children’s concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, Kucowski proceeded with her knee replacement at the Virtua Joint Replacement Institute (JRI) in Voorhees in early June.
“I trust my surgeon,” said the retired teacher. “I figured if he’s going to be there, then it’s safe for me to be there.”
Kucowski is among hundreds of area residents who’ve received joint replacements and other “elective” procedures in recent weeks, since the state lifted its two-month ban on such care due to the pandemic.
“People are seeing that it’s safe to have surgery and other types of care at Virtua facilities,” said Dr. Howard Winter, program director of surgery for Virtua Health, South Jersey’s largest health system.
He cited Virtua’s long list of precautions – from testing all surgical patients, to masking everyone, to having fewer patients in facilities at the same time – that protect everyone from the coronavirus.
To date, Virtua doctors have performed more than 700 orthopedic surgeries – including 340 joint replacements – since May 27, when New Jersey allowed these procedures to resume.
In fact, delaying surgery and other care can be dangerous, Dr. Winter emphasized.
For example, putting off a joint replacement for too long can cause the joint to deteriorate further, making surgery more difficult. Eventually, a person could lose the ability to walk and do other daily activities, which could lead to further health problems.
Betty Kucowski felt reassured throughout her time at JRI, which included an overnight stay. “It was excellent. I felt totally safe,” she said.
The 77-year-old is happy she didn’t wait. Now pain-free, she’s back to an active lifestyle – including socially distanced outdoor line-dancing, making big batches of jam for friends and family, and regularly driving almost an hour to visit her granddaughter.
“I’m up to 5,000 steps a day walking. I don’t feel limited at all,” she beamed. “Everything [at Virtua JRI] was very positive. I was treated very kindly.”
Like Kucowski, John Witt also had knee-replacement surgery at Virtua JRI in early June.
From the time he arrived for the procedure, Witt “had no concerns about the operating facility,” said the Delran resident. “Everything was done very professionally. I felt like I was the only guy there [due to the safety precautions]!”
After years of knee pain that limited his activities, Witt can now do “almost anything,” he says. The 76-year-old is back to work as a construction consultant, and looking forward to a week-long golf trip this month.
To learn more about health and safety precautions at Virtua Health, please visit Virtua’s Elective Surgeries and Procedures web page. To make an appointment, call Virtua anytime at 888-847-8823 or888-VIRTUA-3.
About Virtua Health:
Virtua Health is committed to helping the people of South Jersey be well, get well, and stay well by providing the complete spectrum of advanced, accessible, and trusted health care services. Virtua’s 14,000 colleagues provide tertiary care, including a renowned cardiology program, complemented by a community-based care portfolio. In addition to five hospitals, two satellite emergency departments, and more than 280 other locations, Virtua brings health services directly into communities through home health, rehabilitation, mobile screenings, and its paramedic program. Virtua has 2,850 affiliated doctors and other clinicians, and its specialties include orthopedics, advanced surgery, and maternity. Virtua is affiliated with Penn Medicine for cancer and neuroscience, and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for pediatrics. As a not-for-profit, Virtua is committed to the well-being of the community and provides innovative outreach programs that address social challenges affecting health, from addiction and other behavioral issues to lack of nutritious food and stable housing. A Magnet-recognized health system ranked by U.S. News and World Report, Virtua has received many awards for quality, safety, and its outstanding work environment. For more information, visit Virtua.org. To help Virtua make a difference, visit GiveToVirtua.org.