Joint Replacement Institute Leads the Way with Gold Seal of Approval

Dr. Mark Thomas examining a patient’s hip mobility Dr. Mark Thomas examining a patient’s hip mobility

Brand Story - Willamette Valley Medical Center’s Joint Replacement Institute of Oregon program is at the top of its class.

If you know someone who is in need of a knee or hip replacement and they mention it’s happening at Willamette Valley Medical Center’s Joint Replacement Institute of Oregon program, you can be assured they have chosen one of the finest facilities in Oregon to have their surgery.

The Joint Replacement Institute of Oregon, or JRIO, as it’s also called, was established in 2010, says Cooper Fisher, Marketing and PR Coordinator for Willamette Valley Medical Center. It was created when the medical staff and hospital leadership saw the potential for enhanced quality of care within the market.

JRIO HallwaySignage in the JRIO Dedicated Unit Hallway

“Our medical staff constantly reviews clinical data, as well as patient outcomes and satisfaction. During these reviews they saw an opportunity to improve the quality of care for knee and hip replacement patients,” says Fisher.

This review and commitment to enhancing standards of care and leaving patients more satisfied led to a big accomplishment: Willamette Valley Medical Center, where JRIO is a specialized unit, became the first hospital in the state to obtain the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Advanced Certification for Total Hip and Total Knee Replacements.

It’s all about patient care
An important element of the work done at JRIO setting them apart from others is their focus on early mobility.

Getting patients up and moving starts early. Within two hours of surgery, patients are up and moving, even if they aren’t fond of the idea.
“Our focus on getting patients ambulatory (which is another way to say moving) helps them to return to a better quality of life more quickly,” Fisher says.

Throughout the process of creating the Joint Replacement Institute of Oregon, the JRIO team focused on getting people moving quickly and decreasing pain as key to reducing the length of a patient’s stay in the hospital.
According to Dr. Mark Thomas, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon within the program, “Pain management is a key component in rehabilitating after a knee or hip replacement. Our focus has been a multi-modal treatment plan where pain is managed in a throughout the process by a variety of entities, from pharmacology to anesthesia, using multiple approaches to pain management rather than simply depending on narcotic medication.”

JRIO Advertorial 4Dr. Mark Thomas describing the anatomy of a knee replacement

The timeline
The team uses a multi-faceted approach to pre-operative care and teaching.  There is an emphasis on pain management instructions for the patient, as well as instruction on activity in daily life.

A patient’s involvement with JRIO begins approximately three weeks before surgery with an appointment where a pre-admission nursing review and lab work are completed.

Two weeks before surgery, patients attend a class detailing what can be expected before, during, and after surgery. This class is for the patient and their family member or an individual who will support them after the surgery. The same day, there is also an appointment with a hospitalist and a medical record review. The week before surgery, a patient will have an evaluation and consultation with the anesthesia provider, as well as a final office visit with their orthopedic surgeon.

After surgery, patients are typically discharged in less than 24 hours. Outpatient physical therapy often begins between two and five days after surgery, as well as the start of a progressive exercise program.

JRIO Advertorial 1Willamette Valley Medical Center Physical Therapy

“The timeline works because of the way we’ve designed the program,” Fisher says.  “We’ve developed a   program to optimize the hospital visit, reduce the length of stay, and include the patient in all aspects of the process.”

Patients typically spend a day in the institute from operation to discharge, and 98% are discharged directly to their homes, not to skilled-nursing facilities, Fisher says. Also, because of the focus on early movement after surgery, there is a 100% rate of mobility on the day of surgery.

“Everyone on this team knows who you are and has a vested interest in your success,” says Dr. Thomas. “In comparison to my tenure at other facilities, the personal focus delivered by this team is incomparable.”

Surgery isn’t the only focus at JRIO
The team at the Joint Replacement Institute of Oregon wants patients to be comfortable with what is going to happen, and to know that they are supported. That’s part of why they offer the pre-operative class , which based on research indicates patients who attended a pre-operative education class reported feeling better prepared for surgery and better able to control their pain postoperatively.

The pre-operative class is intended to prepare patients for what to expect prior to and the day of surgery, as well as during the recovery process. The class can also have a support group-type feel for some pre-operative patients, where often times a patient who has had previous joint replacement surgery will share their experience.

“After implementing the pre-operative class and seeing the patient outcomes associated with it, we recognized a support system is critical for patients undergoing a transformative experience, Fisher says.

“These patients really share the same problem [impending knee or hip replacement],” Fisher says. “They all understand what it’s like to live with chronic pain. This class is an opportunity to give patients and their support system an opportunity to learn about what happens pre-operation and post-surgery.”

The focus on patient well-being and outcomes doesn’t stop with a patient’s discharge from the unit. In addition to the pre-operative class, the team also hosts quarterly patient reunion lunches.

“We invite surgical patients and their family members, their surgeon, and representatives from each area of care from clinic to rehab,” Fisher says. “We hear from patients about what went well and how to improve.”  

The event also gives former patients an opportunity to reunite with members of their care team and patients who went through the pre-operative classes together. Fisher says they often see patients from the same classes sitting together at the luncheon and reconnecting.
“We have a mentality that we can always be better and learn from the constructive feedback of our patients and team. We strive to innovate,” Fisher says.


Brand stories are paid content articles that allow Oregon Business advertisers to share news about their organizations and engage with readers on business and public policy issues.  The stories are produced in house by the Oregon Business marketing department. For more information, contact associate publisher Courtney Kutzman.

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