Total Joint Replacement

By Tammy Swearingen

MCMC becomes only the third Oregon hospital to achieve the rare Gold Seal of Approval for its Total Joint Replacement Program.

Tammy Swearingen’s laughter comes much easier today than it did a short year ago. Chronic pain consumed much of her life back then, the result of an eroding hip joint.

“The pain was unbearable,” she remembers. “And I was unbearable, to myself and other people.”

The Dalles resident is thankful that ultimately her hip-replacement surgery — performed by surgeon John Schwartz, M.D., of MCMC | OHSU Orthopedics — and recovery went so well that most of the things taken from her by the pain have since been returned.

“Things are totally different now,” she says. “Before the surgery it was all doom and gloom; the anxiety and depression pain brings can just take over. But I’m enjoying being able to move again, to go hiking and hunting again and shopping with my daughters and grandchildren.”

Swearingen is convinced she had just the right team for her procedure. And if further evidence is needed to support her testimonial, MCMC’s Total Joint Replacement Program can provide it in the way of the Gold Seal of Approval it recently received from The Joint Commission.

This rare certification signifies that MCMC’s program meets or exceeds the prestigious quality organization’s stringent patient care and safety standards for hip and knee replacement surgery and rehabilitation.

Mid-Columbia Medical Center is one of only three Oregon hospitals to earn the Gold Seal for its MCMC Total Joint Replacement team, which includes all local orthopedic surgeons and the hospital’s surgery, nursing and rehabilitation therapy departments.

Kim Hartley, R.N., MCMC’s director of acute care nursing, says staff worked hard to establish a high-quality joint replacement program and wanted to take the extra step of seeking the voluntary certification from a well-respected independent organization.

“The seal of approval certifies to the community that we use the best medical practices available, the quality of our care is excellent and the resulting outcomes for our patients are the best possible,” Hartley says.

Dr. Schwartz calls Swearingen a young and vivacious person made miserable by the increasing pain in her hip.

“It’s good to see her feeling good again,” he says.

The road from painful darkness back to the light was a hard one at times but well worth the trip, Swearingen says. She advises others not to postpone joint replacement surgery if they need it.