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Up Close and Personal

MCMC OHSU Orthopaedics Works on one of their own
Published on 7/21/2011
Author: Dick Baltus
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Sarah Schumacher is used to caring for patients, not being one. But her own experience has left her feeling better than ever about the comprehensive care and services MCMC offers area orthopedic patients.

A skier can’t venture very far down a trail on Mt. Hood without seeing a sign announcing some sort of hazard.

One of those might have come in handy for Sarah Schumacher as she started down the stairs of the mountain rental she was staying in this winter after bad weather wiped out her planned day of skiing.

A misstep left her crumpled at the bottom of the stairs, and it didn’t take her nursing training to tell her she had probably broken her wrist. The pain had announced that in pretty convincing fashion.

A long way from medical attention, it didn’t take long for Schumacher to remember whom she worked with. The clinic coordinator for MCMC | OHSU Orthopedics put in a late Saturday night call to orthopedic surgeon John Schwartz, M.D., who gave her some advice for getting through the night more comfortably.

By the next morning she was in MCMC’s Diagnostic Imaging department getting X-rays, which John Schwartz, M.D. was able to review soon after on his home computer. A few days later, Schumacher was out of surgery and on the road to recovery.

Schumacher’s story serves as an excellent example of the comprehensive and coordinated system of care available from MCMC for patients requiring orthopedic care, from the routine to the highly specialized.

“I see patients in the clinic every day, but until now I’ve never had a close-up look at the care they get every step of the way, from their diagnosis to their surgery and recovery,” Schumacher says. “To experience it first hand gives me a level of empathy I couldn’t have had without being a patient myself.”

According to John Schwartz, M.D., Schumacher’s wrist was no simple repair job. “It was broken pretty badly down into the joint,” he says. “It looked like a box of Grape Nuts down there.”

When he received that Saturday night call from his clinic coordinator/patient, Dr. Schwartz had recommended several measures to increase her comfort until she could get back to the hospital, including applying ice and a splint and taking ibuprofen.

“When I saw Sarah I asked her if she had done all that, and she said, ‘Well, I put some ice on it’,” he remembers. “It reminded me of why I am so happy to be back taking care of patients in this part of the country. They are just good, hard-working people, who don’t make a fuss about their problems. They just want you to help them get back to what they are supposed to be doing.”

Because Schumacher’s surgery coincided with a regular visit from OHSU’s Adam Mirachi, M.D., she was able to benefit not only from Dr. Schwartz’s expertise but also from that of a specialist who focuses on upper extremeties.

“That’s just one of the many benefits of the collaboration between our clinic and OHSU, Dr. Schwartz says.

Certainly Schumacher can testify to those benefits, as well as to the entire network of care that is responsible for her now having complete use of her wrist once again.

“The entire experience was great, all the way through the process,” she says. “While I was in MCMC’s Day Surgery department, I got a massage before my procedure, which really helped calm me down because I had never had surgery before. Everyone kept me informed of what was going to be happening every step of the way. And every staff member I interacted with was just so friendly, from the imaging department to the occupational therapist who helped with my rehabilitation.”

With her wrist fixed, Schumacher can now focus on the more important matters at hand. Like her upcoming marriage. And like helping coordinate the care of the orthopedic patients she now has one more thing in common with.

For information about MCMC | OHSU Orthopedics are to make an appointment, please call 541.506.6500.

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