Four Knees and a Friendship

Marlene Alonzo of Dixon and Yates Kendrick of Rio Vista got more than new knees from the NorthBay Joint Replacement Program last year. As they supported and cheered for each other after surgery, they and their families became fast friends.

Both patients credit orthopedic surgeon Robert Peterson, M.D., for their successful knee surgeries, and the staff of the Joint Replacement Program at NorthBay VacaValley Hospital for getting them quickly up on their feet and on the road to recovery.

Making the decision to have knee surgery was easy for Kendrick, 69. An avid hunter and fisherman, painful knees were interfering with his lifestyle. He had his first knee replacement in March. Two months later, as he was signing up for his second knee replacement, he met Alonzo, who was signing up for her first knee replacement. They had the same surgeon and were having surgery the same day.

“I was apprehensive about having surgery,” says Alonzo, 60. “But my knees hurt so badly I’d be in tears just trying to shop. Yates immediately started offering me encouragement.”

Each had a spouse who worked as their “coach” through recovery. As Nancy Kendrick and Donald Alonzo cheered and coaxed their mates through their exercises, the bond of friendship between the couples grew.

The NorthBay Joint Replacement Program is based on the premise that patients recover quicker when they are part of a group sharing the same experience, says Cynthia Giaquinto, who has managed the program since its inception in 2007.

All patients are admitted to the hospital and undergo their procedures on the same day. This allows them to go through the recovery process as a group—eating and exercising together while providing encouragement and support to one another. From surgery to discharge is usually four days.

“When you recover as a group, you encourage each other and share the ups and downs,” Kendrick says.

Both patients agree that surgery is just the beginning of successful joint replacement. “It takes three months of hard work in physical therapy to recover and strengthen your new joint,” Kendrick says. “They teach you the skills and exercises while you’re in the hospital and expand on those skills in outpatient rehab—but your recovery really depends on how willing you are to work. It’s important to set small goals and work toward them.”

It was five months before Alonzo returned to have her second knee replaced. “Yates nagged me non-stop,” she laughs. “But he also said he’d be there to support me and he was. He came every day.” As soon as she recovers, the two couples plan to travel together.

The Joint Replacement Program is a dedicated unit at NorthBay VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville. The physicians who participate in the program are all board-certified local orthopedic surgeons with years of experience performing joint replacement surgery. For a referral to an orthopedic surgeon, talk with your doctor.

For a list of surgeons participating in the program, or for more information about the NorthBay Joint Replacement Program, call Cynthia Giaquinto at (707) 624-7600.

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