Patients Returning to Virtua Hospitals for Joint Replacement
Knee and hip replacements are back to pre-pandemic levels at Virtua Health;
Patients feel safe and comfortable, thanks to thorough safety measures
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.
In addition to Virtua JRI in Voorhees, Virtua also provides orthopedic surgery at Virtua Memorial Hospital in Mount Holly and at 20 affiliated surgery centers across New Jersey.
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 or 888-VIRTUA-3.