A study published by the New England Journal of Medicine projected a shortage of 5,050 orthopedic surgeons by 2025 – a concerning number when orthopedic pain is one of the most common reasons patients seek medical care. In fact, over seven million Americans require hospitalization for orthopedic conditions and one in seven Americans has an orthopedic impairment, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
While St. Anthony is not unique in its search to find additional orthopedic surgeons, the hospital has maintained a 20-plus year relationship with Des Moines Orthopedic Surgeons (DMOS) to ensure west central Iowans have access to quality orthopedic care, close to home – and patients are taking notice.
In fact, in a recent survey between April 2018 and March 2019, Press Ganey revealed an overall orthopedic rating of 90.3 percent for orthopedic care at St. Anthony, one of the best ratings in Iowa. Hospital Consumer Assessment of Health Care Providers and Systems also released its annual patient survey star rating, ranking St. Anthony at or above Iowa and National averages in all categories, including communication, explanations of medicine, cleanliness, recovery and more.
“I’m a former nurse of 50 years, and I know the importance of trusting your doctor and the nurses that care for you,” said Vicki Neppl, 70-year-old Lake View native who is entrusted Orthopedic Surgeon Thomas Dulaney, M.D., DMOS at St. Anthony, to perform her eighth orthopedic surgery this summer. “The care I receive from Dr. Dulaney and the staff at St. Anthony is the same quality I would receive in a large city, but it’s more personable. I have complete confidence in Dr. Dulaney and his abilities. Most importantly, I feel comfortable and safe when he performs each surgery.”
But being a nurse is hard work, and that, combined with osteoarthritis, made Vicki a prime candidate for orthopedic issues.
“I retired in 2011 after my total hip replacement,” Vicki said. “Surgery was the best thing I ever did. You know when you can’t sleep because you’re in so much pain that it’s time to make a move.”
Vicki discovered Dr. Dulaney when she tore her meniscus in 2008. She had previously seen an orthopedic physician in Omaha but was thankful to have a provider close to home.
“It was so convenient to see Dr. Dulaney because he was only 30 minutes away, not a two-hour drive,” said Vicki.
Since then, Vicki has undergone four rotator cuff surgeries, total hip replacement in 2011 and a total left knee replacement in 2016. This June, Dr. Dulaney performed a total right knee replacement.
Today, Vicki, who has three daughters, six grandchildren and four great grandchildren, attributes her ability to keep up with them and her husband, Joe, of 20 years, to the orthopedic care she received through Dr. Dulaney, DMOS at St. Anthony.
“While I’m not as agile as I used to be, I am grateful for the orthopedic services that have allowed me to keep up with my grandchildren,” Vicki said. “I couldn’t do it without the surgeries and care that has been provided so close to home.”
Forty-two-year-old Anthony Hooper is also grateful for the quality orthopedic services available through DMOS at St. Anthony. A high school science teacher of 19 years and assistant football coach, Anthony and his wife, Sandra, moved to Carroll two years ago. While teaching at Carroll High School, Anthony decided to look into his hip pain that had persisted over the past four years.
“Once Dr. Dulaney’s partners in Des Moines started digging into the issue in March of 2017, X-rays revealed that I had shallow hip sockets,” said Anthony, who measures 6-feet, 5-inches in height. “In short, my hip socket was pinching on top of the hip ball, destroying cartilage and building up arthritis. And, my size didn’t help. I could still do things but would be in a lot of pain.”
Following his initial diagnosis, Anthony was restricted to low impact cardio – no lifting, running, or jumping. But, his pain persisted, creating back problems and issues standing.
“I was desperately looking for a solution. I did therapy and spoke with Dr. Dulaney about cortisone shots,” Anthony said. “With my sons being at such young ages [six and four], I want to be active with them as they grow up.”
Anthony discussed his concerns with Dr. Dulaney, who later performed two total hip replacements for him, the first in December 2018 and the second in May 2019.
“Being so young, there is always the possibility that I will have to replace the implants again at some point,” Anthony said. “But it became a quality of life issue for me, and the pain was impeding my ability to coach and play with my kids.”
Anthony shares that Dr. Dulaney came highly recommended from his wife, and jokingly added that he always takes her recommendations on good surgeons. She is, after all, a surgical tech at St. Anthony Regional Hospital.
“I’m one of those guys that avoids the hospital like the plague. If I can possibly avoid it, I will. I was dreading the hospital stay, but everything went as smoothly as possible – even the food was good,” Anthony said. “Everything I’ve heard about Dr. Dulaney and the St. Anthony staff made me confident in the procedures. I can’t imagine getting out of the hospital and driving an hour and a half home after surgery. It was nice to have a local surgery option close to home.”
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