Colleen’s Story

I can’t say enough about the excellent care I received at Summit.

Colleen Wandmacher was far from home when she realized that her knee needed medical help.

“I had arthritis in my right knee,” she admits. “At first, it wasn’t terribly painful, but as time went on, it bothered me more. I thought that as long as I could still take the long walks I love, the pain might be something that would go away.”

During a trip to Israel, she learned otherwise. Disembarking from a bus, the impact of one deep step tore the remaining cartilage in her knee. She managed the rest of her trip with a pronounced limp that would not go away. It was time to seek medical treatment.

When Colleen returned home, she remembered her father’s hip surgery with Summit Orthopedics years earlier. Although she hadn’t met Dr. Jack Drogt, the surgeon who cared for her father, other family members had talked about how nice he was. Colleen made an appointment to see him.

“I can’t say enough about the excellent care I received at Summit,” she beams. “I thought long and hard about this surgery—I prayed about it! Once you commit to surgery, it’s not something that can be undone. I could tell from the beginning that Summit’s joint replacement services were so well thought out and planned. Dr. Drogt was wonderful. I ask a lot of questions, and Dr. Drogt and his assistant, Chase, took the time to address them all with care and honesty. They reviewed all of my options with me, and made it clear that the final decision was mine. I was so grateful for that. Dr. Drogt told me everything I needed to know in order to make my decision.”

Colleen chose to have a total knee replacement at Summit’s new Vadnais Heights Surgery Center. Summit encourages all patients to select a family member or friend to accompany them through the surgical process. Colleen reached out to her daughter Jamie.

The day before her surgery, Colleen and Jamie met with the Vadnais Heights patient coordinator, Kristin, who reviewed all of Colleen’s medications, and introduced Colleen to her physical therapist. Colleen was able to do a test run on the Secure Tracks rehabilitation system she’d be using during her recovery. The next day, after surgery, Colleen was using Secure Tracks again, and was amazed and impressed that she was able to walk as far as she did—and even climb stairs—hours after her surgery.

“It helped me a lot to have the therapist walk me along Secure Tracks before my surgery,” Colleen recalls. “I knew exactly what to expect, and that was very comforting. I felt confident about my ability to recover.”

Surgery went well, and Secure Tracks built her confidence—but staying at the Care Suites was a sheer pleasure. “It was like being in a hotel, not a hospital,” Colleen recounts with a smile. “It was so nice to crawl into a cozy comfortable bed with soft sheets. My daughters stayed with me all day—our space felt very personal. These details make a difference. It was all just wonderful.”

Summit’s Vadnais Heights program reviews every aspect of the surgical process with patients, and supplies them with a written summary. “The written material I got from Dr. Drogt’s office was so positive,” says Colleen. “I knew exactly what I’d be able to do, and how long it would take for my knee to heal. I understood that my success was in part dependent on how I did my therapy at home. I really appreciated that.”

After surgery, Dr. Drogt visited with Jamie and Colleen’s other daughter to review the surgery and the recovery process. “He even wrote a little page of handwritten notes about follow-up care for them,” Colleen remembers. “I was so impressed.”

Vadnais Heights is designed to create a comprehensive program of surgical care under a single roof. For Colleen, the fact that every aspect of her care—from pre-surgical consultations with her care team and imaging through post-surgical Care Suites recovery and rehabilitative therapy—was offered at one location was both convenient and empowering.

“When you are admitted in a hospital, it’s as though you become someone else—someone who is ill,” she says reflectively. “At Vadnais Heights, that never happened. I felt cared for, and I still felt like myself. I’d had surgery and needed medication and therapy, but I wasn’t sick. And it was so comforting to know that at Vadnais Heights, the danger of any infection was much lower than it would be in a hospital setting. That was nice; it was one less thing to worry about.”

When she was released from the Care Suites, Colleen was eager to get back to enjoying homemade salads and fruit smoothies, and resuming her walks at night—which were much more than just an exercise regime. “When I walk in my neighborhood at night, I feel at peace,” she explains. “I don’t have to worry about makeup or my hair. That is my time to reflect and pray.”

Colleen’s goal after surgery was to walk without arthritic pain. “The arthritic pain of bone rubbing on bone was gone from the moment I got out of surgery,” she reports. “That pain was just gone. I’m six weeks out from surgery now, and I turned another corner a few days ago. After visiting with Jamie, I walked a couple of blocks to my car, and noticed that my knee felt really, really good. I know it’s only going to get better.”

Colleen has resumed the evening walks she loves, and is sharing the Summit experience that helped her reclaim her healthy active lifestyle. “I’ve already recommended Summit to a friend,” Colleen smiles. “Without hesitation. It was such a wonderful experience.”

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