Path out of pain: Boone Hospital team helps Tebbetts woman escape severe knee arthritis

January 21, 2015

This article appeared in our fall 2014 issue of My Boone Health magazine. The next issue will be out very soon — subscribe to have it sent to your home.

By Jacob Luecke

From her home in Tebbetts, Mo., Belinda Heimericks can look down upon the Missouri River bottoms and the Katy Trail.

For years, she loved spending hours biking and walking along the trail, enjoying the views of farmland and majestic bluffs. But in recent years, those trips became fewer and fewer.

For the past decade, Belinda, 63, has suffered from arthritis in both of her knees. About three years ago, the pain became severe, requiring her to take pain medication just to make it through each day.

In addition to limiting her time on the Katy Trail, Belinda’s increasing pain was starting to take the fun out of life—making it difficult to enjoy a 2013 trip to the St. Louis Zoo with six of her eight grandkids.

“Anytime I had an outing, I would have to plan out how long I was going to be walking and make sure that I could take my pain medication throughout the day,” she says. “If I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t be able to make it through the day.”

Belinda 1


Looking for help, Belinda turned to Columbia Orthopaedic Group, the physician practice affiliated with Boone Hospital Center’s orthopedic program.

At first, Belinda and her doctor tried using injections to stop the pain, but those did not provide lasting relief. Then, orthopedic surgery specialist Ben Holt, MD, decided that performing replacement surgery was the best path forward. He recommended doing both knees at once.

“What I ask people is, ‘Which knee bothers you more?’ And if they can’t tell me which knee bothers them more, then generally those patients do better having both knees done at the same time,” Dr. Holt says. “Doing them both at once means they avoid having to face the risks of surgery twice and having to do rehab twice. This way, they can get it all over with at the same time.”

While replacement surgery was a big step, Belinda says she trusted Dr. Holt and the Columbia Orthopaedic Group, noting that the practice had helped her family members in the past.

“I had heard excellent things about them and my experience with Columbia Orthopaedics has always been very positive,” she says. “Our family has always had excellent outcomes.”

As a nurse who works in a management role with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Belinda says she was also aware of Boone Hospital’s reputation for outstanding nursing care. The hospital’s Magnet designation made her feel comfortable she would be in good hands as she recovered from surgery.

“With my nursing background, I pay attention to the reputation of the nursing care provided at the different hospitals,” she says. “I knew that Boone Hospital Center was a Magnet hospital, which for me is very important because I know that signals that the nursing care is going to be excellent.”

Belinda’s surgery took place on Dec. 6, 2013. While the procedure is called “replacement” surgery, Dr. Holt says that term often leads to confusion. Rather than removing and replacing a patient’s knees, the surgery actually involves resurfacing the knees.

Belinda’s surgery took just over two hours. During that time, Dr. Holt cut away a small amount of bone on both of her knees, enabling him to install a new metal surface. He then placed a plastic insert to pad where the two metal surfaces would come together in the knee.

“A lot of times people have a real misconception about what we do,” Dr. Holt says. “Really I think the better term would be total knee resurfacing, because that’s really what we are doing.”

The surgery went smoothly.

After the procedure, as Belinda recovered at Boone Hospital, she says her nurses lived up to their strong reputation.

“They were just outstanding,” she says. “I think what struck me about it was how they anticipated my needs. I didn’t have to tell them I was experiencing pain, they were there and saying, ‘It’s time. We think you need more pain medication so that we can stay ahead of the pain.’ They were anticipating what my needs were and that made it much more tolerable.”

On the fourth day after the surgery, she was able to return home, where she underwent a month of in-home therapy before doing one additional month of outpatient therapy.

Belinda 2As she recovered, her world began to open up again.

Just four months after the surgery, she attended a soccer class with her four-year-old grandson. She was far from a bystander.

“I was out in that class with him and I was able to kick the soccer ball and dribble it down the field,” Belinda says. “Before the surgery, I would have been sitting on the sidelines watching everyone else. That’s how quickly it all came back”

This summer, Belinda went on an out-of-state work trip where her hotel was five blocks from her meetings. Yet each day, she skipped the shuttle and walked instead—enjoying the opportunity to sightsee.

“I had no knee pain and I didn’t have to take any medications,” she says. “I was able to walk as far as I wanted.”

This contrasted greatly with a similar trip in 2013, when Belinda needed assistance just to get around the airport.

Dr. Holt says such strong results are common with knee replacement patients.

“It’s usually a dramatic improvement,” Dr. Holt says. “Not every knee replacement patient is totally pain free all the time. But usually in comparison it’s a dramatic improvement from what they had before.”

With Belinda’s great outcome—she says she feels no pain except for some occasional, normal stiffness—Belinda is not shy about endorsing the service she received at Boone Hospital.

“I just can’t speak highly enough about the nursing care, the care provided by the physical therapists and the medical staff at Boone Hospital Center,” she says. “My husband and I have decided if we need to be hospitalized anywhere in central Missouri, it needs to be at Boone Hospital.”

Belinda also had high praise for Dr. Holt, whom she says has a wonderful bedside manner and a great sense of humor.

“He is an excellent practitioner, he’s very personable,” she says. “I highly recommend him. The first thing I say to anyone is if they have any kind of knee or hip problems, I say you need to schedule an appointment with Dr. Holt. He is fantastic.”


When should you see an orthopedic specialist for knee pain?

As people get older, it’s common to feel aches and pains every now and then. But if the pain is persistent, Dr. Holt says there is a wide variety of techniques that a specialist can use to help relieve the pain—with replacement surgery being one of the later options.

“The normal knee really shouldn’t hurt,” Dr. Holt says. “It’s one thing to have an ache or pain here and there, but if you are having discomfort several days of the week—week after week—there is something going on that probably needs to be addressed. If it’s ignored, it may just continue to get worse.”

December Employee of the Month supports the orthopedic surgery team

December 3, 2014

Brenda Singleton is Boone Hospital Center’s Employee of the Month for December 2014. Click here to nominate someone for Employee of the Month.

On a typical day in Boone Hospital Center’s Orthopaedics Specialties unit, there can be many patients arriving to the floor before and after joint surgeries. Unit Secretary Brenda Singleton prepares the nurses and patient care techs to treat the patients before they arrive, assisting with room assignments, setting up means to contact members of a patient’s care teams, entering orders, answering phones and working with our orthopedic surgeons and other physicians.

“My job is primarily multitasking,” Brenda says. “I make sure everything is running smoothly so that the charge nurse doesn’t have to worry about every minor detail and can do exactly what they need to do to care for a patient.”

Brenda Singleton

Brenda Singleton

Brenda, a Boone baby who grew up in Columbia and attended Hickman High School, joined the Boone Hospital Center team in August 2012. She had previously worked elsewhere as a medical coder.

She says, “I was looking for a job in a hospital setting, where I could work around patients. The unit secretary position was a good fit, and I was excited to get hired here. I really like the people I’m surrounded by, both my co-workers and our patients. I think Boone takes really good care of their employees. Everyone’s extremely friendly and will help you and answer your questions. You just feel like everyone here is nice and easy to talk to – that’s something that’s hard to find.”

Brenda has two daughters; the oldest lives in Columbia with Brenda’s 3-year-old granddaughter, and the youngest is a Navy officer living in California with her husband and Brenda’s second granddaughter, now 2 years old. “I really enjoy being a grandmother,” Brenda says.

She also enjoys reading mystery and thriller novels and watching movies, particularly small, independent movies, and is a supporter of Ragtag Cinema in downtown Columbia.

“I love Columbia,” Brenda says. “I always have. This is a great area to a raise family, with a great hospital.”

Brenda admits she wasn’t ever expecting to be selected as Boone Hospital Center’s newest Employee of the Month, but says she is very grateful that her teammates thought of her and nominated her for this honor: “You don’t come to work expecting an award. You do your job and hope you’re doing your best for the patients.”

“Thank you so very much for your caring, dedication, professionalism and expertise”

August 12, 2013

By Karen R. Davis, MSN, RN

Karen, of Hallsville, shared this story via myBoone Health submission form. Click here to share your story.

I was scheduled to have my right knee replaced on Thursday, May 30, by Dr. Hockman. All the pre-op testing and teaching was done, Dr. Hockman and Robin his nurse were professional, personable and thorough in all my appointments in the clinic. I felt confident in their skills to do their best in replacing my knee.

IMG_1857This was going to be a life altering experience for me, to be able to walk and maneuver steps without pain was going to change my life. I was reassured by several nurses and Dr. Hockman that for this surgery “no pain, no gain” was the chant I would learn to love.

I had worked at Boone Hospital for ten years before I continued my education and began teaching nursing at Central Methodist University two years ago. I have many friends at Boone whom I have kept in contact with and knew that Boone Hospital was the place for me to have my surgery.

Arriving at the agreed upon time of 7:45 a.m. in the morning, we were treated with friendly professionalism. Even though I have been a nurse many years, taking on the role of patient was a new experience for me. I too needed the friendly reassurance that everyone knew what they were doing and explaining everything as they did their job. I was called back by Sarah, my preoperative nurse, who was wonderful and explained everything that was going to happen to me and when. My IV was started and all the questions asked and answered by the nurses and the anesthesiologist, Dr. Hockman stopped by and initialed my right knee so everyone would know which knee was the correct one. Then by 9:30 a.m. it was time to go, my husband Tom was to go to the waiting room to wait for Dr. Hockman after the surgery for the update.

To be honest, I do not remember much of the surgery, I did get some very good medication the made me feel warm and happy, I think I was a bit chatty during the surgery. I was assured that I did not give away secret codes or incriminating evidence that could get me into trouble. Nor did I talk about any money I have hidden away and just forgot about. My nurses Bonnie and Melissa were very reassuring and talked me through the whole process. Dr. Meyer, who was my anesthesiologist, made sure I was comfortable and did not feel a thing during the surgery, nor did I have a “spinal headache” afterwards as I did have when I had to have caesarian sections when I had my boys, 31 and 27 years ago. Of course Dr. Hockman and Robin were there too and worked exceptionally well to complete the surgical procedure.

Next thing I know, I’m in post anesthesia care unit where Robin checked in on me when Carissa had some concerns about the drainage from my hemovac drain. We were all reassured, the dressing was reinforced and was soon taken back to my room on the 7th floor by 1 p.m.

My husband was waiting with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. I am listing the nurses and techs that took care of me and I apologize if I forgot anyone. Cimarron and Stephanie took care of me Thursday and Saturday, Becky and Crystal took care of me days on Friday and Sheri, whom I have worked with, and another nurse but I cannot remember her name took care of me Thursday night. Jason and Gloria took care of me Friday night.

Saturday I was to be discharged after meeting the necessary goals to go home, the physical therapists, Kate and another which I did not write her name down, and I apologize, were friendly and knowledgeable to help me meet those goals.

Boone Hospital Home Care provided the nurses and physical therapists that continued to provide the necessary monitoring, encouragement, and goals to continue my recovery. Tom my nurse and Karen my physical therapist were wonderful.

Boone Therapy continued after 3 weeks of home care. Melinda, my physical therapist at Boone outpatient therapy was exceptional, her understanding, compassion and skills to “…is that as far as you can go?” managed to help me meet and exceed goals that surprised even me! Melinda made sure my exercises would be manageable after I return to work.

I had my first return appointment with Dr. Hockman and Robin last week and they were very pleased with my progress.

To say thank you just doesn’t seem enough to express the gratitude I feel for all the wonderful people who were involved in this life changing event.

For anyone I missed, I apologize I hope you understand how much of a difference you have made in my life, for the better! So, thank you so very much for your caring, dedication, professionalism and expertise. Please remember, all the things you do every day have a huge impact on the lives you touch.

Returning To The Mound: Ashland athlete returns to the game after a broken leg

April 8, 2013

By Shannon Whitney

This story is featured in the Spring 2013 edition of myBoone Health magazine. Click here for a free subscription.

When he hit the pitch, he thought it might be a homerun. The score was 2-1, his Southern Boone County Eagles were trailing Osage High School. There were two runners on base, and junior Gus Goodnight watched his hit soar into the outfield.

The ball hit the ground and bounced over the fence. Gus knew he hit a ground rule double. He would get to take second base and two RBI’s.

Boone Hospital Center, Gus, baseballBut Gus never made it to second.

As he rounded first base, he was watching the ball. He stepped on the base awkwardly, and snap! Gus fell with a harrowing pain in his left leg.

Right away he knew something was wrong.

“My first reactions were I think I broke my leg; when am I going to be back? Did those runs score?” recalls Gus, now a senior.

A baseball player since he was 5 years old, the then high school junior was nervous about spending time away from the game within seconds of his injury.

The coaches hustled over, and someone called an ambulance. As Gus was carried off the field, both the Eagles and their opponents lined up to watch him go before saying a prayer.

The ambulance took him to a nearby hospital, but right away they knew he needed more help than they could offer. The Goodnights drove their son to Boone Hospital Center. They had heard about Todd Oliver, MD; they wanted him to take care of Gus.

Visiting team

After he was admitted and settled in, Gus and his family started getting calls and texts from his teammates and their parents.

Everyone wanted to come visit Gus. The nurses on the floor said that would be fine. The baseball team poured in at 11 p.m.

“When he was here as a patient, it really made a big difference. They didn’t have to let those kids up there at 11 p.m. at night, but they did. It was good for the kids and Gus. Even though it inconvenienced the staff, they put their patients first. We went home talking about that,” said Tima Goodnight, Gus’ mom and former Boone nurse.

“All of us moms thought, ‘Okay, guys, it’s just a broken leg. There are kids out there who are really sick,” she remembered. “But to those boys, it could have happened to any of them. It made it real.”

For the rest of the weekend, Gus followed his team through a website with regular score and stat updates. It was hard not to be on the field with his buddies.

“It made me realize a lot of things. I always thought of myself highly, but then I saw they could do it without me,” said Gus.

The day after the accident, Dr. Oliver came to see Gus. He gently felt his leg and explained how Gus would need surgery and that would mean the end of this baseball season.

“It’s never easy telling a young athlete that they have a bad injury and they’re going to miss a lot of playing time,” said Dr. Oliver. “I reassured him that he is going to get through it, and if he does things right, he’ll heal faster and get back on the field.”

Dr. Oliver put a rod in Gus’ tibia and a plate on his fibula. Gus wore a boot for the rest of the school year.

“I always tell my patients, I get the easy part. I have to put them back together. They have the hard part, they have all the work,” said Dr. Oliver.

When Gus left the hospital five days after the accident, his work was just beginning.

Adjusting to the sidelines

At his high school in Ashland, Gus played varsity baseball and football. He was accustomed to being in the middle of the action.

“We know when he becomes an adult and looks back on it, this will only be a tiny part of his life,” said Tima. “But when you’re 16, that’s a big deal to miss your purpose in life.”

With his leg in a boot, he made some big changes.

“It was hard every day getting up. I couldn’t sleep the way I used to. I had to sleep with my boot, and I couldn’t roll around,” explained Gus. “We have a batting cage in our basement, so I had to get out of bed and see that batting cage. That was rough.”

He still attended practices and games to support his team.

“It’s different to see a team from that point of view, rather than playing. You see why the coaches do stuff,” laughed Gus. “Whenever they make you run, you think this is so dumb, we shouldn’t be doing this. Whenever you are on the sideline watching and helping, you see they are out of shape and need to be running more.”

Back in the game

Dr. Oliver cleared Gus to play football on Senior Night, the final game of the season. His coach put him in as an outside linebacker, even though he played on the defensive line before the injury.

He played four plays the entire season, all in that final game.

It was easier getting back into baseball because it was a less physical game.

Early this fall, Gus returned to the mound during a fall league game. He and his mom clearly remembers the first batter.

“We were in the stands crying because he’s pitching again and we never thought we’d see the day. Then, this kid hits a homerun,” laughed Tima.

“I was furious,” scowled Gus.

He also eased back into batting, at first with the help of a pinch runner, all the while sending photos back to Dr. Oliver.

Gus goes to the Columbia Speed Academy a couple times each week to prepare for baseball season this spring. This March, his team traveled to Florida to squeeze in some spring training games before the season started.

When asked about his senior season, he replied, “I’m really excited. I’m ready to get back into it.”

Gus hopes to continue his baseball career into college. In the meantime, he’s just happy to be back on the mound.

Boone Hospital Center, Gus, baseball

This story is featured in the Spring 2013 edition of myBoone Health magazine. Click here for a free subscription.

Patient’s wife, “felt respected and as if I have made new friends”

October 15, 2012

By Cheryl Gipson

Cheryl, of Roach, shared this story via the online submission form. Click here to share your story.

This is my fourth time to be with my husband at this hospital. We have been on floors 6 and  7.

Each time I have chosen to stay and though staying in the room is awkward all the staff tries to be as accommodating as they can be — even to the point of trying to make me a pallet on the floor.

Each time I have felt respected and as if I have made new friends. Thank you so much for making a difficult situation as pleasant as possible.

Spine Center staff helped turn a “surgery full of anxiety into a wonderful experience”

October 3, 2012

By Aimee Dorrell

Aimee, of Rothville, shared this story via the online submission form. Click here to share your story.

A room in Boone Hospital’s Spine Center.

I was supposed to have my back surgery in February, but I didn’t go through with it when the time got closer. I opted to do more physical therapy, and gave it until the summer to see how I felt.

Needless to say, I am at Boone for my minimally-invasive spine surgery to my L4/L5. Dr. Craig Meyer and his team were patient and understanding. Not once did I feel pressured to make any decisions.

I arrived on Wednesday, Sept. 26th, for my surgery here at Boone Hospital Center. Every doctor, nurse, assistant and secretary was very pleasant and understanding.

On the Spine floor, where I stayed from Wednesday through Friday, the nurses and techs that were assigned to me were the most caring and positive people I’ve ever met in the hospital environment.

They assisted me in any way they could, and would even suggest things if I was not comfortable. They checked on me often, and made me feel welcome.

Thank you, Spine Center, for turning a surgery full of anxiety into a wonderful experience that I will never forget.

I know that if someone I know is needed a surgery, or any care of a hospital, for that matter, I will be recommending them to Boone.

Marshall farmer praises his “boy wonder” doctor

September 25, 2012

Kurt Bormann, MD, explains reverse shoulder surgery like there’s nothing to it.

“You put a prosthesis in the humoral shaft, you put a prosthesis in the glenoid, which is part of the scapula,” he said. “And how you do that depends on the arthritis they have or if they have a rotator cuff tear or a fracture.”

Sounds easy, right? Dr. Bormann, with Columbia Orthopeadic Group, does shoulder surgeries of all kinds about once a week.

The one he was talking about is for patients with severe rotator cuff problems who don’t have many other options. One patient who fit the bill and had the surgery is Mike Vogel.

Vogel is a 77-year-old farmer from Marshall, Mo. Father of six, grandfather of 13 and great-grandfather to one, his shoulders had taken a beating.

“I’ve been on a farm my whole life, except for my military service. That’s a lot of hard work, hay bales, feedbags, seed bags, you name it,” said Vogel. “My shoulders wore out. “

He’s had three rotator cuff surgeries, and after two on his right shoulder and one on his left, his family doctor said there was nothing else he could do.

“For a while there, we didn’t think there was anything we could do about it,” explains Vogel’s wife of 54 years, Fran. “He wasn’t a candidate for rotator cuff surgery again, so what are your choices?”

When it felt like Vogel was running out of options, his doctor introduced him to Dr. Bormann, a specialist. Read the rest of this entry »


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