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North Hills Monthly

The Best of Both Worlds: Orthopaedic Care at UPMC Passavant and UPMC St. Margaret

Oct 30, 2015 03:07PM ● By North Hills Monthly magazine

Trenton Gause, MD, chairman of orthopaedic surgery at UPMC Passavant (left) and Vincent Silvaggio, MD, director of surgical services and chairman of the Department of Orthopaedics at UPMC St. Margaret (right).

Having an orthopaedic injury can be debilitating, whether a person has carpal tunnel that limits one’s ability to work, or a shattered hip, which prevents the person from walking. And while many orthopaedic issues, such as degenerating joints, or bones broken in falls, affect more elderly patients, the fact is, these types of problems can occur at any age.

In the North Hills, patients are fortunate to have access to two orthopaedic departments at UPMC Passavant, which includes specialists at its campuses in McCandless and in Cranberry, and one at UPMC St. Margaret. Board-certified surgeons, specialists, and highly trained staff use the latest evidence-based treatment approaches and technologies to diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate patients with a number of conditions, including joint problems, foot and ankle problems, spinal problems, and fractures. Because both hospitals are also part of the UPMC system, patients also have access to the resources and expertise of the world-renowned health system as a whole.

Trenton Gause, MD, says the focus of treatment at UPMC Passavant is always conservative and surgery is considered as a last resort, unless it’s an emergency situation.
“The focus of treatment is always conservative; we consider surgery as a last resort, unless it’s an emergency situation,” explains Trenton Gause, MD, chairman of orthopaedic surgery at UPMC Passavant. “We talk to patients about the least invasive or non-operative procedures first; it’s a stepwise ladder. If they don’t respond to conservative treatment, then we’ll discuss operative procedures.”

Both hospitals also provide a full continuum of care, including preoperative testing, inpatient and outpatient physical and occupational rehab, care management and social work services, and home care.

According to Vincent Silvaggio, MD, patients who come to UPMC St. Margaret receive the same high level of care as at any other hospital within UPMC, with the advantage of having it right in their own backyard.
“We’ve always been a strong orthopaedic hospital, and patients who come to UPMC St. Margaret receive the same high level of care as at any other hospital within UPMC, with the advantage of having it right in their own backyard,” says Vincent Silvaggio, MD, director of surgical services and chairman of the Department of Orthopaedics at UPMC St. Margaret.

Orthopaedic surgeons at UPMC St. Margaret were among the first in the region to implement minimally invasive total joint replacement surgery, spinal disc replacement, and hip arthroscopy. “We have a lot of expertise here,” he continued. ”We have surgeons who specialize in all areas of orthopedic surgery. Our doctors work with sports teams, both at the high school and professional level. We’re a community hospital that provides specialized care.”

Improving Quality of Life
David Trautman, 52, can speak to that care first-hand. Having suffered from back pain for 17 years, he decided to undergo surgery in May of this year to see if he could find some relief. “In 1996, I ruptured a disc and had a micro-discectomy, which provided some relief, and a year later, I had a second micro-discectomy, which also kind of helped, but the pain never really went away,” he explains. “My back continued to slowly deteriorate, and I underwent conservative treatments for a number of years, including physical therapy and steroidal injections, but any relief was only temporary.

Undergoing back surgery this past spring, David Trautman credits the St. Margaret team for the exceptional care he received.
“At Christmas last year, I was playing Santa’s helper, and I wrenched my back and ended up in the hospital on IV painkillers,” he continues. “My back continued to deteriorate over the next five months, but I had too much going on to have back surgery. I retired from the Army on May 2, 2015 and scheduled surgery with Dr. Silvaggio on May 18.”

After four days in the hospital and three weeks recovering at home, Mr. Trautman was able to slowly return to work as a lawyer at his own practice, and by mid-July was back working full-time. “Every day, I’m feeling better and better; I can’t say enough about Dr. Silvaggio,” he says. “He gave me my life back. That sounds cliché, but if you’d seen me pre-surgery, you would have thought I was 90 years old. I could barely walk. My right leg was completely numb, and my left leg was about three-quarters numb. The pain was brutal, and the quality of my life was about zero. I couldn’t even get from the parking lot to the courtroom without breaking out in a sweat from the pain.”

Since his surgery in May, Mr. Trautman has made an impressive recovery. “My left leg is at 100 percent, and I have no pain in my hips or back,” he said. “My right leg is at about 90 percent; there’s still a little numbness. And I have my mobility back—now I can play with my kids.

“The care I received at UPMC St. Margaret—not just by the surgical staff, but by the nurses, anesthesiologist, scheduling staff and reception staff—it was all just top-shelf,” he adds. “I trust them so much that I recommend them to everyone; in fact, my daughter is going there for a knee procedure. I can’t say enough about what they’ve done for me and my family.”

David Weaver, 69, had a similar result after he underwent a left total shoulder reverse arthroplasty at UPMC Passavant. In April, he tripped over an ottoman and hit his shoulder on a wall, causing a number of injuries to his upper extremities. “At UPMC Passavant, they took an x-ray of my shoulder, which showed a break in the humerus,” explained Mr. Weaver. “It was put in a sling and I went home with a prescription for occupational and physical therapy, and home health assistance with bathing.”

David Weaver says the orthopaedic surgery he received at UPMC Passavant was a positive experience.
When rehab didn’t help, Mr. Weaver had a CAT scan, which showed a break in his shoulder. After being cleared by a cardiologist and pulmonologist, he underwent surgery with Dr. Gause, who discovered that in addition to the shoulder injury, Mr. Weaver’s rotator cuff was irreparably damaged and had to be removed. “Now that I’ve had the reverse shoulder replacement, I’m in no pain, and I’m progressing really well,” said Mr. Weaver, who is still undergoing rehab at the UPMC Center for Rehab Services. “I was able to attend a baseball game with my brother a couple of months after surgery, and I’ve been able to return to my volunteer work in the Imaging Department at UPMC Passavant five days a week.

“It’s a long process, but I’m definitely improving,” he adds. “I’m getting my range of motion back.”

According to Mr. Weaver, having orthopaedic surgery at UPMC Passavant was a positive experience. “I was very well treated; my questions were all answered, and I felt well-informed. I’m confident in my recovery, and I look forward to continuing to work with the rehab center staff.”

Putting Patients First
One of the benefits of having an orthopedic procedure performed at UPMC Passavant or UPMC St. Margaret is that patients’ needs are put first, whether that means providing education about a certain procedure or ensuring that it’s convenient to come to appointments.

At UPMC St. Margaret, for example, total joint pre-operative education classes are offered one or two times a month, so that patients know what to expect before and after their surgeries. The Passavant Hospital Foundation sponsors lectures every month for the UPMC Passavant community that cover a range of topics, including orthopaedic procedures and upper extremity conditions, and the hospital also offers classes on hip and knee replacements.

Because all UPMC hospitals are linked through an electronic health record system, physicians and surgeons can also easily communicate with a patient’s other doctors, saving time and ensuring that everyone who is treating the person has the same information. “As soon as my notes are dictated, they are available for the patient’s PCP or other physicians to view,” says Dr. Gause. “This helps to provide continuity of care, and makes each patient’s medical information readily accessible.”

Because both hospitals are within an easy drive of those living north of Pittsburgh, they can also access whichever one is more convenient for their care. “While I might operate on someone at UPMC St. Margaret, if they need physical therapy, or rehab services, and live in Wexford, they could go to UPMC Passavant,” says Dr. Silvaggio. “In some cases, duplication of services is not a bad thing; for convenience, they can go to our sister hospital and be assured they will receive good quality care.”

All of the orthopaedic spine surgeons who work at UPMC St. Margaret and at UPMC Passavant are also part of UPMC’s comprehensive new spine center, which opened in August. The UPMC Passavant Spine Center provides patients suffering from back and neck problems a convenient option for high-quality care, and includes diagnostic testing, a multidisciplinary team of specialists, and support services including physical rehabilitation and pain management, under one roof.

UPMC St. Margaret also has a program designed specifically to treat the needs of the elderly population, who make up a large portion of the orthopaedic injuries that they see. “We established a geriatric fracture program in order to address the needs of these patients who are more fragile, and who often come to us with broken wrists or hips,” explains Dr. Silvaggio. “The best way to care for these patients is to have a system in place to get them into the hospital and the operating room, if necessary, as quickly as possible. We have a team dedicated to this population of patients with the goal of decreasing morbidity and mortality, and improving outcomes.”

Whether a person is treated at UPMC Passavant or UPMC St. Margaret, they will receive compassionate, high quality care. Says Dr. Gause, “Specialized care at a community hospital—it’s the best of both worlds.” 

This advertorial has been provided by UPMC.