Dr. McAvoy and nurses Ann and Mildred

Dr. Greig McAvoy believes he may know the reason Nash UNC Joint Replacement Center has a high rate of good outcomes.

And he admits, it’s not all about his surgical skills.

As an orthopedic surgeon that does many of the surgeries at the Joint Replacement Center and serves as the director of the program, McAvoy says it’s bigger than one person.

“It’s not just the medical skills and expertise that make our joint replacement program the best I’ve seen,” McAvoy said.

He says it doesn’t just happen in the OR, or just in the physical therapy department, or just in the recovery room.

“It’s the teamwork — all of it put together. It’s the consistent message from start to finish and how we interact with our patients,” McAvoy said. “From the first steps of doing paperwork and evaluations for surgery, all the way to physical therapy post-op — all of us are a team with the goal of the best outcome for our patients.”

One recent patient agrees and wrote a letter praising the team after his wife’s surgery.

Peter K. wrote: “In April 2019, my wife had a right knee replacement performed by Dr. McAvoy. Post surgery, she was transferred to fourth-floor east. Her care on that unit was superb. The nurses, Ann Judd and Crystal Macklin, were very supportive and compassionate to my wife’s needs. The NAs were excellent as well, Mildred Richardson and Kanvis. Both provided comfort and were greatly appreciated.

“Each visit to her room focused on both health care and a chance to provide much needed education about her situation. Barbara was made to feel as if she was an active participant in her recovery.

“The discharge instructions provided by Anne were very thorough and realistic. My wife and I were provided with an honest review of the positives and negatives involved with the recovery process related to a total knee replacement. We both left the hospital knowing what to expect during the weeks of healing that awaited us.”

McAvoy said the work of team members like nurse Ann Judd, RN, and Mildred Richardson, NA, help make the joint replacement program a first-rate option for North Carolinians needing surgery.

Judd said that she believes the excellent communication between staff and patients helps get the best outcomes for patients.

“Being honest and informative to our patients and making sure they understand each step in the process — from the pre-surgery ‘Joint Class’ to what to expect at physical therapy — helps get them mentally and physically ready for what’s needed for success.”

Mildred Richardson said she sees her care of patients post-op as an important part of their recovery.

“I try to teach them the best way to get up, how to move around, and maybe teach the family members the best way to help. too,” Richardson said. “I know we want our patients up and moving around as soon as possible, so I try to be gentle, but remind them, that’s what they’ve got to do.”

Judd said she appreciates how closely all of her co-workers work together.

“We trust each other and know we’re all in this together,” Judd said. “I know I can mention a problem to Dr. McAvoy and he’ll address it, Mildred knows if she sees something that doesn’t seem quite right, I’ll check it out, or I can ask Mildred if such and such a patient still seems nervous to go home. I think the communication channels we have between us all makes a difference.”

Judd, McAvoy and Richardson all agreed this is not always the normal work-flow relationship in a medical department at a busy hospital.

McAvoy said the Joint Replacement program was designed from the beginning to be different and build success on having such integrated teamwork from the start of the patient experience to the final outcome after physical therapy.

“When this program was developed, a lot of time and thought went into planning: How can we do this better than the way other places are doing it? Where do the problems occur and how can we keep patients on the same page as us, throughout the entire process?” he said. “That was in 2007 — and I think we’ve hit upon a pretty successful way to offer this program to our patients and see some of the best outcome rates in the state.”

All patients at the Joint Replacement Center have a nurse navigator that guides them through the process, and receive a book of facts, forms and information about the surgeries and recovery. The program also offers a Joint Replacement class for patients and their families to take prior to surgery.

Richardson said it best when she commented, “We are kind of like a family, taking care of other families. When you are our patient, we are going to take good care of you.”