New Knees: The Day is Knee(r): My Journey to Knee Replacement


I’m always more than a little pleased, almost smug, when the blood tests, urinalysis and heart examination show ideal results.  After all, I better be getting some benefit from a rigorous daily exercise regimen!  So is my family medicine doctor, Joe Screpetis, a physician for whom I have much respect and trust.

I think of Screpetis as a “foxhole doctor.”  He’s been in deep medical trenches with members of my family.  So far, we’ve all managed to climb out in good shape.  When he pronounced me fit for double-knee replacement surgery after the prerequisite EKG and other tests, I was relieved and confident that there were no known physical impediments to the operation.  I suspect astronauts feel the same way when the pre-launch inspection has been successfully completed.

I’m not going to the International Space Station, but I am going to a new hospital for this surgery.  And I thought it would be a good idea to personally inspect this new Central Louisiana Surgical Hospital before I awoke from anesthesia in unfamiliar territory.  The first inpatient surgery in the facility was performed May 24th of this year.  Mine, I was told, would be the first double-knee replacement.  My suggestion that such a momentous occasion should be cause for a new car or cruise for the patient was not met with wild enthusiasm.  I’ll settle for a plaque.

Much of the in-patient surgery at this hospital is orthopaedic.  Drs. Chris Rich and Terry Texada, each of whom has performed more than 1,000 knee replacements, will operate in tandem.  In addition to the surgical team from Mid State Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Center, anesthesia will be provided by Mid-Louisiana Anesthesia Consultants.

There are 24 in-patient rooms at Central Louisiana Surgical Hospital, and they’re appointed more like a Marriott than the hospital quarters with which I’m familiar.  The first thing that catches your eye in the spacious room is the flat screen TV.  A sofa-bed and reclining chair are nice amenities for family and friends.  There’s a wardrobe area and a large bathroom with a folding seat in the shower if your legs get wobbly.  I suspect I’ll be using it.  The laminate wood floor and custom draperies are conducive to a “homey” atmosphere, and there’s an internet connection if you want to stay plugged in.  My preference probably will be to stay plugged in to the pain medication.

The dining room, which is operated by Luby’s Cafeteria personnel, is open from 6:00am to 1:00pm for patients and visitors.  It contains a surprising amount of variety, and the menu looks appealing.  I’ll provide a restaurant review next month.

There are 12 operating rooms and two endoscopy rooms in the 78,000 square-foot building, and the staff told me they were custom-designed by the doctors who use them.  Imaging as well as surgical procedures are performed in this hospital, which is owned by 37 participating physicians.  Of all the numbers that were provided, the one that meant the most to me was a nurse/patient ratio of one-to-four.  When I press that nurse call button, I want a response.  The very low nurse/patient ratio greatly enhances the prospect for immediate attention.

I’m an advocate of full disclosure, and I fulfilled that obligation when I told the hand-picked hospital staff that I would not be the most agreeable patient with whom they had ever dealt.  In fact, it’s likely that I’ll make somebody’s Top 10 Worst Patient list.  They eagerly accepted the challenge.  I like that.  More than 20 years ago, following a series of knee injuries, I was told by Mid State Orthopaedic doctors that I would eventually need knee replacement surgery.  I can’t honestly say that I’m completely ready for it, but the doctors are, and that’s plenty good enough for me.  Wish me well.

If you suffer from osteoarthritis of the knee and experience pain and decreased function, call (318) 473-9556 for an appointment.  Talking to an orthopaedic surgeon from Mid State Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine could be the first step towards getting your life back.