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Five Star Quality: The Augusta Health Joint Center

March 31, 2017 | By Lisa Schwenk
Published in: Award, Joint

Joint Center Five Star Quality Award

When talking about the quality of movies, restaurants or hotels, a five-star rating indicates top-notch performance and service. A similar rating system exists for healthcare, and the Augusta Health Joint Center has been rated a 5-Star program by HealthGrades for both 2016 and 2017 in Joint Replacement (hip and knee).

This 5-Star rating means there were superior outcomes for patients who had their hips or knees replaced at Augusta Health. That means fewer complications, a shorter length of stay, and a high number of patients discharging to their homes, not other facilities.

In fact, in the last quarter of 2016, the complication rate was 0%, and it's generally less than one-half of one percent. The average hip replacement patient can walk 374 feet (with a walker) before leaving, on average, two days after surgery. The average knee replacement patient can go 370 feet. And, most of those patients do go directly home to be with their family and sleep in their own beds—94% do, which is the top score among hospitals performing more than 600 replacements per year.

What makes this possible?

At the Joint Center, the staff knows the every patient is different, so the care for every patient must be tailored to meet that patient's needs. In fact, it starts with the assumption that not every patient will need a joint replacement—and reasonable alternatives to keep the natural joint are considered first. But when the decision is made that surgery will be necessary, the physicians and staff focus on working with patients for a plan that is best for their lifestyles. Everyone—physician, nurse, care coordinator, therapist and director—works together to be sure each patient is successful.

The Joint Center itself is a separate wing of the hospital with private room. The area includes a fully furnished gym for group therapy, a twice a day, supportive and educational activity where staff and patients encourage each other. There are activity replicas to help train for daily tasks such as driving, just getting in and out of a car, and bathing. Pain management experts help patients properly handle the pain, and staff trains family members and friends (the 'coach') to help with at-home recovery. After a special, detailed, educational lunch for both patient and coach, each patient is discharged.

Care from the Joint Center continues even after discharge. In addition to daily post-op calls, coordinators do whatever is needed to keep recovery on track. From arranging the paperwork for temporary 'handicap tags' to meeting patients at therapy appointments to check their dressings, the coordinators make sure the patients are healing as expected and confident and comfortable with their new joints.

The surgeons who work in the Joint Center are D. Brian Dean, MD; Ramon Esteban, MD; George Godette, MD; Gregory Hardigree, MD; Lee Hereford, MD; Jack Otteni, MD and Thomas Pereles, MD. Collectively, they represent more than 100 years of experience in this community. They've trained on the most modern techniques available so they can customize each surgical decision to meet the specific needs of each patient.

For more information on the Joint Center, please visit