Date: 5/10/2010

Joint Academy of St. Mary Medical Center celebrates 2nd Anniversary

In May, 2008, George Miller became the first patient to receive joint replacement surgery at St. Mary Medical Center’s new Joint Academy. Since then, more than 800 patients have been through the innovative, highly-successful program for their knee and hip replacement procedures.

On Thurs., May 13, the Joint Academy will hold its 12th patient/coach reunion. As part of the Joint Academy program, patients and their therapy “coaches” (usually a family member) return two-months after surgery to reunite with fellow joint recipients and coaches to visit and share stories. Thursday’s reunion is special because it marks the two-year anniversary of the Joint Academy. Miller will be on hand to say a few words and discuss his life after knee replacements. Seven months after his first procedure, Miller had his other knee replaced at the Joint Academy as well.

“During a stay at the Joint Academy, our patients participate in group activities as well as have individual care for preparation of discharge,” said Donna Wieczorek, R.N., joint care coordinator. “Even after they return home, we follow up with them well into their recovery. The reunion luncheon with their coaches is an enjoyable way for them to ask questions and see how others are recovering as well.”

This unique approach ensures patients receive the best possible experiences and outcomes. This year, the Joint Academy was designated as a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement. Blue Distinction® is a designation awarded by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies to medical facilities that have demonstrated expertise in delivering quality healthcare. St. Mary Medical Center is the only hospital in Northwest Indiana to achieve this designation.

“Our goal at the Joint Academy is to provide exceptional patient experiences with superior outcomes,” said Scott Andrews, M.D., chief of medical staff at St. Mary Medical Center and medical director of the Joint Academy. “Through teamwork, innovative techniques, education and effective rehabilitation, we’re able to help joint replacement patients return home and get back to living more active lifestyles.

To learn more about the Joint Academy at St. Mary Medical Center or to arrange a tour, call 219-945-4365 or visit our website at