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New Year, New Knees

After 400 backcountry hikes into the Grand Canyon, 100 trips down the Colorado River and scores of worldwide excursions spanning a 44-year career, it was no surprise to 65-year-old geologist Wayne Ranney when his knees began to bother him.

“I went to the doctor, tried a couple treatments and when they didn’t work, the doctors said I would be a good candidate for bilateral replacement – that is double knee surgery – so I agreed,” said Ranney. “The surgery went well and surprisingly only took two hours.”

A big boost for Ranney in his post-op recovery was the care he received at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Northern Arizona. “I spent 12 days in recovery there, which I believe helped to save my marriage,” he said with a laugh.

“The rooms were fantastic, private and I can’t say enough about the staff. They were very attentive, caring and professional. When I left, hugs were all around.”

With a staff of 120, the Rehabilitation Hospital of Northern Arizona opened in February 2018. The 40-bed facility is the only rehabilitation care facility in Northern Arizona and is a joint-commissioned accredited hospital. “Before we opened here, patients would have to travel literally hours to get this type/level of care,” said Dr. Richard Holt, physician and medical director.

Complete with 24/7 physician coverage, an on-site pharmacy with three full-time pharmacists, nursing and patient care technicians, full-time occupational, speech and physical therapy, Holt said, “There is nothing like us in Northern Arizona and now patients can stay in the community that is close to their homes and families and get world-class rehabilitation care.”

Ranney says the food is great, too. “It was excellent. It was tasty, attractive and they take a lot of pride in their dishes. I was amazed at some of their offerings.”

“Our head chef, Mike Difilippanton, has been with us since we opened,” said Holt. “He uses a lot of organic food options. It’s a bit more expensive, but so good for our patients. Nutrition and health are a huge part of rehabilitation and recovery.”

“After working in restaurants for 26 years, this is my first health care setting and I really enjoy it,” said Difilippanton. “I’ve taken the approach of shaking the hospital food up a bit by using fresh, whole ingredients, which is how I eat at home. So many hospitals bring in pre-cooked turkey or canned mushroom soup; we bring in raw turkey breast and roast here as well as make our own sauces. That way we can control the sodium content.”

Officials say the facility is designed with earth tones, designed in support of the Native American culture. “Every room has the sign of the sun that points east,” said Holt. “The spacious rooms encourage family members to stay overnight. Our goal is to get everyone independent, but we want families to be involved.”

“I’ve visited the Rehabilitation Hospital of Northern Arizona on a number of occasions,” said Visiting Angels Marketing Director David Coyne. “The staff are friendly and helpful and the facility is one of nicest I’ve ever seen. Their ability to help people get back on their feet is really impressive. We’re proud to work alongside this great hospital.”

“Anything life-changing or a life-altering medical issue is what we deal with,” said Holt. “Our patients are victims of strokes, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and traumas. We take patients that are too sick to go home. They have too many issues and can’t go home safely, but they’re not sick enough to be in the hospital. They don’t need acute care. That’s where we come in.”

Even though the Canyon has taken its toll, Ranney expects to recover from his bilateral knee replacement surgery with a whole new appreciation for pain-free walking. “That is the goal: Get back on the trail!” FBN

By V. Ronnie Tierney, FBN

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