Preparing Our Patients for Success... Patient Education a Priority at Newton-Wellesley
Thousands of patients come to Newton-Wellesley Hospital each year for a wide variety of surgical procedures. The Hospital offers a vast array of surgical services including sophisticated, minimally invasive techniques to meet each patient’s needs. Preparing for any type of surgery is an undertaking for patients and their families and the team at Newton-Wellesley works to make the experience as comfortable as possible and has made patient preparedness a top priority. The Newton-Wellesley team believes that each patient as an individual plays a very important role in planning his or her care.
Our Centers of Excellence
Two Centers of Excellence at the Hospital, the Kaplan Center for Joint Reconstruction Surgery and the Center for Weight Loss Surgery, have created comprehensive programs that emphasize the importance of patient education.
“We have made it a priority to focus on patient education,” says Joseph McCarthy, MD, Director and Surgeon at the Joint Center. “Our team is committed to creating a process that includes informing our patients with the most accurate information from health care professionals. When patients have the information they need about their upcoming surgery, we can then partner with them to make decisions about their options and their care.”
The idea of having surgery can be stressful for patients; however, with thorough planning the Hospital’s surgical teams are able to relieve anxiety, reduce pain and get patients back to their normal everyday activities as quickly as possible.
“We understand that health care in general moves at a very rapid pace,” says Nancy L. Hiltz, RN, MS, ONC, Orthopaedic Educator in the Joint Center. “Our patients have access and exposure to unlimited information from sources like friends, family, the media and the Internet. Therefore, it is our job to anticipate their individual needs and provide accurate and crucial information to create a positive surgical experience.”
Education at Every Stage
The teams at both the Joint Center and the Center for Weight Loss Surgery work to educate patients throughout their entire experience – from pre-surgical visits to life after surgery. “Our interdisciplinary team works together to decrease patient anxiety by providing information about what to expect from the time they schedule their first appointment until the time they come for their post-surgery follow-up,” says Nancy. “Patients have their own, unique concerns so it is important that we address these and provide education on a case-by-case basis.”
The Joint Center and the Center for Weight Loss Surgery have both compiled extensive reference guides for patients with detailed information about their upcoming procedure. This information and advice comes from the collective experience of health care providers, patients and families at Newton-Wellesley Hospital.
“It is important to provide patients with details about their surgery including what to expect before and after in a way they can understand and ultimately, feel comfortable with,” says Dr. McCarthy. “Educating our patients and familiarizing them with the process helps us set realistic expectations and is an invaluable tool to accomplishing our goals – relieving pain and enhancing quality of life.”
The information in the guide is not intended to substitute for the dialogue between patients and their health care providers. However, it does provide important information and helps patients to facilitate conversations with those involved in their care.
“Providing this comprehensive overview has helped patients understand what will happen and makes the course of treatment as smooth as possible,” says Nancy. “We encourage patients to carry their reference guide with them throughout their surgical experience. It also serves as a convenient place to file other information related to their care so it is easily accessible and located in one place.”
Another key component to each program is the extensive patient education classes. “Once patients have scheduled their surgery, an important step for a healthy recovery is being prepared both physically and mentally,” says Nancy. “We provide pre-operative education classes to help with this preparation. The classes provide an overview of all aspects of their upcoming procedure. We encourage patients to bring a family member because these classes give them both a chance to ask questions and to listen to the questions of other patients.”
The education classes play a very important role in preparing patients for success during their surgical experience. “These classes provide an interactive environment for patients to ask questions and for health care providers to offer accurate information and correct any false perceptions,” says Nancy. “They also connect patients to members of their health care team and to other patients going through the same experience.”
The program at the Center for Weight Loss Surgery also offers ongoing support and education to patients throughout their surgical experience to ensure long-term weight loss success. Patients receive behavioral, nutritional and surgical education and counseling and a complete follow-up plan. This approach to treating the chronic disease of obesity incorporates patient education and preparedness as a top priority.
“Patients come to our initial instructional meeting after investigating weight loss surgery for many months, if not years,” says Sheila Partridge, MD, Medical Director and Surgeon at the Center for Weight Loss Surgery. “This meeting offers patients an anonymous and commitment-free environment to become educated about weight loss surgery. We use this opportunity to inform patients about the Center, the surgery including both the risks and the benefits and how to proceed from this point. It is important that they receive correct information from health care professionals.”
The team at the Center for Weight Loss Surgery offers several other educational classes including further preparation for the procedure and life after surgery.
“Our dietitians and nurses teach a two-hour class that all patients scheduled for surgery are required to attend. During this class, our team reviews the process that patients will go through when they come for their surgery. One month after surgery, patients are required to come back for another class to help them with the post-operative time period,” says Dr. Partridge.
“We find that attending these classes helps our patients have a more successful recovery and transition after their surgery. We continue to evolve our program’s educational component and rely on patient feedback to help us make changes to best meet our patients’ needs.”
During this process, patients also meet with a multidisciplinary team at the Center to address their specific objectives and goals and receive information tailored to their individual circumstance.
Patient education and preparedness is a top priority at Newton- Wellesley Hospital – whether patients are coming for surgery at the Joint Center, the Center for Weight Loss Surgery or to receive any other surgical procedure. The Hospital strives to continually improve the quality of care and create the best environment for patients throughout their entire surgical experience.
“Newton-Wellesley is committed to quality, patient-focused care and strives to address the needs and questions of each individual patient,” says Dr. Partridge. “We want every patient to have a good experience by knowing what to expect and by feeling they have the knowledge and tools for a successful recovery.”
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