FARMINGTON — San Juan Regional Medical Center's Total Joint Care Center is celebrating a successful first year.

Since launching in November 2011, the new center streamlined joint care efforts, provided an improved procedure for patients during preoperative and recovery periods and added comprehensive joint care and education resources for the community. To mark the center's first anniversary, San Juan Regional Medical Center is donating 12 turkeys to the ECHO Food Bank and holding a community celebration from 10 to 11 a.m. today at the Center Court of the Animas Valley Mall.

The public is invited to hear from patients who received total joint replacements or joint health education. Information about joint health and how to sign up for a free joint health class will be available.

"Since we launched, it has definitely been a learning experience," said LaVeta Bowker, surgical floor manager at the medical center. "One thing about this program, we had to work very closely with other departments, but ultimately, first and foremost do what's best for the patient."

The medical center's departments quickly learned to coordinate their efforts, she said.

"That was such a tremendously positive experience," she said. "It's just like it snowballed. Our goal was to streamline the process, to have an identified process to optimize the patient's health before surgery."

A major part in that preoperative preparation is the educational program.


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Before surgery, patients go through a four-week preparation process incorporating detailed education on what they can expect before and after surgery, said Jennifer Boyd, a registered nurse and care coordinator for the Total Joint Care Center.

After the joint replacement surgery, medical center staff ensure that the patient gets moving again as soon as possible. This is an essential step in preventing complications, Boyd said.

Since launching the joint care program, the medical center has conducted about 243 knee or hip replacements, Boyd said. About 87 percent of those patients were dispatched to outpatient physical therapy services.

Those outpatient services are vital to ensuring the patient's continued health and in assisting medical center staff in monitoring that health, Boyd said.

"It gets (the patient) back into the game," Boyd said. "You want to make sure that the patients are safe in the community."

Total joint replacement, however, is an a major procedure, and part of the joint care center's mission is to educate those suffering from conditions such as osteoarthritis on ways that they can ease their joint pain and avoid further damage to their joints without surgery.

Boyd teaches a class on osteoarthritis and joint care on the third Wednesday of each month from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. For more information on the classes and locations, contact Boyd at 505-609-6078.

"(Total joint replacement) means that there are no other options," Bowker said. "You go through everything else before you consider total joint."