How a New Program Helps Older Patients Even Before Surgery

Carolan Mungo decided to have a total knee replacement procedure through Clifton Springs Hospital. A new program at the hospital helped her in ways she didn’t expect – before and after the surgery.

Feb. 10, 2023 5   min read

A provider looks closely at a knee replacement surgical patient

Carolan Mungo will be the first to tell you that 76 is not ‘old.’

“When I first heard a doctor say ‘geriatric patient’, I thought to myself, ‘I’m not that old!’,” Carolan said.

While she is indeed a great-grandmother and has been retired for nearly 20 years from her special education job in Geneva schools, Carolan is bustling with purpose and assistance for people in her community. She is heavily involved with Our Lady of Peace Parish in Geneva, serving as president of the Rosary Society, and helps with her local American Legion Winnek Post 396.

Outside of these organizations, Carolan always finds a way to keep her hands busy, either crafting or playing Euchre with her friends, playing the piano, or spending time on her own to paint, sew, cross stitch, or knit.

When arthritis and deterioration of her knee cartilage began to make movement progressively harder for Carolan in 2022, she knew a conversation with her primary care provider was in order. Imaging results showed her knee was bone-on-bone, and Carolan and her primary care provider ultimately decided a total knee replacement would be the best.

What Carolan didn’t realize at the time is that she would be taking part in a new geriatric surgery program – created specifically for patients like her.

Putting the program in place

Once Carolan decided to move ahead with the knee replacement procedure, she set a plan in motion that was put in place as part of the Rochester Regional Health Geriatric Surgery Program. This program benefits patients ages 75 and older by focusing on individualized risk screenings and coordinating care that meets their unique needs.

Each patient has a dedicated multidisciplinary care team that works together on a personalized care plan – all without the patient having to ask for it. Providers prioritize protecting the independence of older patients and assisting them through any procedure with as few complications as possible.

Carolan met with Sean Childs, MD, an adult reconstructive orthopaedic surgeon, to discuss her medical history and the procedure itself, along with a team of nurses and other staff who provided her with educational material and helped her prepare for her surgery and recovery. Ahead of the procedure, she met with a physical therapist who worked with her to strengthen the muscles and tissue around her knee so her recovery would be easier. Nurses also administered memory tests to see how anesthesia might affect her following the surgery – and all of it was done in a way that was light and easy to understand.

On November 16, 2022, Carolan went into the operating room to have the knee replacement done. From the pre-operative stage to the recovery room, she said everyone she worked with was immensely helpful.

“They treated me like I was the only patient they had coming in for the entire day,” Carolan said. “The nurses were wonderful. The doctors were great, and so were the therapists and other medical staff who helped me.”

Taking the next steps

Following the procedure, Carolan met with a physical therapist while still in the hospital. The therapist demonstrated ways that she could get dressed at home easily without moving her bandage and drainage tube around her knee – making sure Carolan could do it before leaving to go home.

“My pain was managed perfectly,” Carolan said. “If I had any questions, I felt free to call the doctor’s office at any point. They thought of everything so I knew exactly what to be prepared for.”

Two months later, Carolan is still doing her physical therapy exercises at home and getting back to regular life. She said the experience was so good that she is already planning to have her other knee replaced once Dr. Childs says she is fully recovered from her first surgery.

“The horrific pain is gone and everyone I had contact with was absolutely wonderful,” Carolan said. “Everything was explained well and taken care of in a timely manner, in the same way that I would take care of someone who was having surgery if I was in that position. I would recommend my experience for anyone who is considering having surgery.”

NEXT STEPS Safe, High-Quality Care for Older Adults

Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic, Newark-Wayne Community Hospital and Unity Hospital are three of only five hospitals in the nation to be verified in Geriatric Surgery by the American College of Surgeon. Our program offers individualized surgical plans created with two goals in mind: meeting our patients’ specific needs and helping them maintain their independence. Through patient-centered care, we aim to address the unique physiological, social, and treatment goals of aging surgical patients while improving surgical outcomes.

Explore The Program
senior care icon
Clifton Springs Hospital Clinic
2 Coulter Road
Clifton Springs, New York 14432
Visit Location