Joint Journey Program Patients at Divine Savior Experience Excellence


Divine Savior Healthcare has changed the way patients and their families think about and experience hip and knee replacement surgery with their Joint Journey program. Joint Journey is a comprehensive program based on a national practice model for hip and knee replacements, which is structured around the fundamental principles of wellness.

According to Divine Savior Orthopedic Surgeons Dr. Frank Walter and Dr. Doug Arnold, patients benefit from an incredible amount of research and best-practice implementation with this program. This innovative program was fully implemented one year ago at Divine Savior to maximize outcomes and provide a superior experience for people having hip or knee replacement surgery. After one year, care team members, physicians and Joint Journey patients all report incredible outcomes and results.



Data collected from the last year for total hip and joint replacement patients also indicates:   



Complication Rates

Patient Education

Readmission Rates

Walking Distances and Flexibility

Length of Stay in the Hospital

Patient Satisfaction

Overall Costs

Discharges Directly Home


One program highlight that many patients note, is that their hospital stay and recovery time has become significantly shorter. Patients leave the hospital sooner, and more go directly home rather than to a rehabilitation or nursing facility. Most patients are ready and able to go home in two days.  

The Joint Journey Program incorporates advanced, minimally invasive, analgesic and rapid-recovery techniques….all in an environment that maximizes recovery through education, preparation, a culture of early mobility, family involvement, team work, and returning patients back into their homes faster.

What Is Joint Replacement Surgery?

Joint replacement surgery involves removing a damaged joint and putting in a new one. A joint is where two or more bones come together, like the knee, hip, and shoulder. Your doctor may suggest a hip or knee joint replacement to improve how you live. Replacing a joint can relieve pain and help you move and feel better.

The Joint Journey Experience

An important aspect of the program is that individuals having elective surgery chose a coach – usually a family member or loved one – who is an active participant in the care before, during and after discharge from the hospital. Both the patient and their coach attend a pre-operative class before surgery, where they meet their Joint Journey team, in addition to learning in detail about the procedure, what to expect in the hospital, and how to care for themselves once returning home afterward. Coaches learn the program right along with their loved one, and provide encouragement and support every step of the way.

Each patient meets the Joint Care Coordinator, a registered nurse who oversees their entire experience, and is their resource before, during and after surgery. The team members involved with caring for joint patients at Divine Savior receive special training, and are selected to work with Joint Journey patients because of their expertise, positive nature, and motivational skills.

Wellness remains a large focus during the patient’s stay in the hospital. Patients bring comfortable clothing to wear each day rather than a hospital gown. They also follow an aggressive daily scheduled that begins early each morning in a dedicated section of the hospital devoted to joint replacement patients. 

Each day, patients received a daily newsletter, letting them know their agenda for the day, along with tips on how to care for themselves later. Two group therapy sessions are held daily in the rehabilitation department, specific for joint replacement patients. A visual display board tracks individual distances walked helps to keep patients motivated and moving forward. Patients find the camaraderie with other patients’ progress both challenging and rewarding.

“I had no idea I would be up and moving that quickly! I was surprised how far I could actually walk. I hadn’t walked that far in nearly six years!” reports a Joint Journey graduate.

Care doesn’t end after discharge though.  Joint Journey graduates receive calls from the Joint Care Coordinator in the days following discharge, and again at intervals throughout the year after surgery. Reunions are held for graduates and their coaches, to celebrate their victories with the surgeons and the Joint Journey team.

The End Result

The Joint Journey program embraces the Divine Savior commitment to change with the changing needs of those they serve.  Each patient is evaluated on multiple clinical, functional, and patient satisfaction criteria. These outcomes are analyzed during monthly performance improvement team meetings, and enable Divine Savior Healthcare to become an efficient and cohesive team.

Divine Savior has been offering continued high quality care and services, caring for Portage and surrounding communities for over 100 years.  If you’d like more information on Joint Replacement at Divine Savior Healthcare, please visit www.dshealthcare.com/Joint_Journey or make an appointment with Dr. Arnold or Dr. Walter by calling (608) 745-6420.



All News Items


Experiencing a dull pain in the pit of your stomach

Stomach PainGastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, and gallbladder disease are two very common disorders. Knowing which one you have may be trickier than you think. Symptoms may be vague, such as a “dull pain in the pit of your stomach”, making it hard for you to explain to your doctor what’s exactly going on.

At Divine Savior Healthcare, General Surgeons, Dr. Eric Anderson and Dr. Joshua Pogorelec, have seen many patients with these symptoms and after further examination are able to help  diagnose and treat both diseases.

What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease GERD refers to stomach contents moving into the esophagus causing a burning sensation commonly referred to as heartburn. Other symptoms may occur as well, such as pain in the upper abdomen, bloating, nausea and an acid taste in your mouth.  If this continue, prolonged exposure of the esophagus to stomach contents can result in damage to the lining of the esophagus.  This in turn can result in difficulty swallowing, pain with swallowing or permanent damage to the esophagus.

Although not all reflux results in symptoms or damage to the esophagus, common symptoms include:
• Heartburn
• Acid regurgitation
• Belching
• Difficulty or pain when swallowing
• Waterbrash sudden excess of saliva
• Dysphagia the sensation of food sticking in the esophagus
• Chronic sore throat
• Laryngitis
• Inflammation of the gums
• Erosion of the enamel of the teeth
• Chronic irritation in the throat
• Hoarseness in the morning
• A sour taste
• Bad breath
• Coughing at night

What is gallbladder disease?
The gallbladder is located below the liver on the upper right side of the abdomen. The main function of the gallbladder is to store bile, which is made in the liver and allows fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients to be easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Any condition that affects the gallbladder is considered a disease, and there are many different scenarios that fall under gallbladder disease:
• Inflammation
• Gallstones
• Common bile duct stones
• Biliary Dyskinesia
• Infection
• Perforated gallbladder
• Gallbladder polyps
• Porcelain gallbladders
• Gallbladder cancer

Dr. Anderson and Dr. Pogorelec share "the most common disease of the gallbladder is gallstones. Most people with gallstones do not even know they have them.  Once they cause problems, the gallbladder may need to be removed. Symptoms include pain below the right rib cage or in the “pit” of the stomach. This pain may radiate to the right upper back, chest, or shoulder. Other symptoms may include, bloating, nausea or vomiting, fever or chills, chronic diarrhea, jaundice yellow-tinted skin, or unusual lighter-colored stools or dark urine.”

After taking a closer look at GERD and gallbladder disease, Dr. Anderson and Dr. Pogorelec are able to provide helpful insight on common distinguishing factors between the two diseases.

Common distinguishing factors:
• Location: Although both may feel like a “pit in your stomach”, if you experience symptoms located closer to your throat or in your chest it is more likely to be GERD related. Symptoms located near your right lower rib radiating into your right upper back, chest and shoulder are more likely to be associated to your gallbladder.
• Pain: Unlike GERD, gallbladder pain usually begins suddenly, and changing positions, belching, passing gas or taking medications rarely helps pain symptoms go away.
• Timing: With heartburn being the most common symptom of GERD, symptoms of reflux are likely to occur shortly after eating, where symptoms of gallbladder disease usually occurs several hours after eating and have more consistent patterns of reoccurrence the same time each day.

What does treatment look like?
The symptoms of GERD are commonly and effectively treated with over-the-counter medications such as anti-acids and proton pump inhibitors. However, if relief does not go away from these medications your provider may recommend you be evaluated by one of our surgeons at Divine Savior.

After a thorough history and physical, our surgeons may recommend further evaluation of the esophagus and stomach with endoscopy.  Similar to colonoscopy, but without the need for prep, upper endoscopy allows the surgeon to visualize the esophagus, stomach and intestine to evaluate for damage to the esophagus, infection and a hiatal hernia.  Depending on the findings, further testing may be indicated to evaluate the function of the esophagus. 

Patients with severe GERD benefit from surgery to prevent reflux from occurring.  This procedure is commonly performed by both Dr. Anderson and Dr. Pogorelec, is minimally invasive, and very effective at treating GERD.  In fact, most patients no longer require any antacid medications after the procedure.

If you are found to have stones in the gallbladder causing symptoms, the best course of action is to have the gallbladder removed.  Leaving the stones in place will continue to cause pain and may result in serious infection of the gallbladder and bile ducts, jaundice or pancreatitis. 

Both Dr. Anderson and Dr. Pogorelec routinely perform minimally invasive removal of the gallbladder.  This is most often an outpatient procedure and very successful.  After a short recovery, most patients will find their symptoms are gone and they are able to live a normal life. 

If you experience symptoms related to GERD or gallbladder disease, or have concerns about either, it is best to consult your provider for further examination. Treatment for either disease varies person to person, but taking action immediately and being properly treated can help you prevent problems from worsening.

To schedule an appointment with Divine Savior Healthcare General Surgeons, Dr. Anderson or Dr. Pogorelec, call 608-745-5176.

All News Items