For Claudia Antolini, one knee replacement was enough. Her 2009 operation was accompanied by significant post-operative pain and required her to be out of work for nine weeks.
But Antolini suffers from osteoarthritis that damages the cartilage in her knees, and eventually her other knee began to fail. A walk through the supermarket was nearly impossible, and simple tasks like getting dressed had to be done sitting down.
Rather than go to Boston, as she did for her first surgery, this time Antolini opted to keep her care local. A longtime nurse who is now the Operations Director at Lowell General Hospital’s Cancer Center, she knew that the hospital had recently opened an Orthopedic Center of Excellence.
"There was absolutely no reason why I couldn't receive my care here, closer to home," she says.
Antolini met with board-certified orthopedic surgeon Dr. Scott Sigman who gave her good news – if all went smoothly, she would experience significantly less post-operative pain, without the use of opioid painkillers, and be back at work in six weeks.
And rather than being fitted with an artificial knee that was one of three sizes – small, medium or large – she would get a new knee customized to her anatomy using 3D imaging.
After having the surgery in late 2015, Antolini says all her best hopes were realized. After three days, she had only mild pain and was able to walk with a walker. Once she was discharged, she received in-home rehabilitation from the visiting nurses at Circle Home (now known as Tufts Medicine Care at Home), and then continued her outpatient rehabilitation at Circle Health’s Village Square location in Chelmsford. She returned to work part-time after six weeks, and full-time after seven weeks.
“That’s something I never thought would happen,” she says.
As a longtime nurse, Antolini knows the importance of sharing consistent information and records from diagnosis to treatment to recovery, and came away with a first-person view of what it means to receive Complete connected care.
“You didn’t hear one thing from one person and something different from someone else,” she says. “Even when I went from physical therapy at home to then going in Chelmsford, it was seamless. They had all the information and knew what my strengths and weaknesses were.”
Today, Antolini is back to her old routine, no longer fearing a walk through the supermarket or an extended conversation while standing in the halls.
“To be able to do the things that you enjoy doing and enjoy your family – it gave me my life back,” she says.