After playing football in high school, running track year round as an NCAA All-American and later coaching track, Lee McGinnis eventually paid the price in his hips. “It got to the point where I couldn't even work out anymore, the pain was so bad,” says McGinnis, 71, a retired college English instructor in Wheaton, Illinois. Told in spring 2020 that he would need both hips replaced, McGinnis worried about the timing. As his wife, a retired nurse, says, “In the middle of a pandemic, no one wants to be in the hospital."
Fortunately, his orthopedic surgeon also explained that McGinnis could have joint replacement surgery as an outpatient in the hospital. On May 29, McGinnis had his right hip replaced at Central DuPage Hospital. On Aug. 17, he returned for his left. To facilitate his ability to go home the same day of both operations, he was given spinal anesthesia instead of general anesthesia. He was sent home with both a cane and a walker.
Beyond that, he says, “my doctor told me we could do as good a job with rehabilitation at home as in the hospital.” Indeed, after doing exercises on his own and later attending physical therapy sessions, McGinnis is back to walking, bicycling and playing golf again.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hastened the trend toward more outpatient total knee and hip joint replacement surgeries at hospitals throughout the country. At the Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group (which includes Central DuPage Hospital), in the six months before the COVID-19 pandemic 14 percent of hip and knee joint replacement surgeries were done as same-day surgery; in the six months after the pandemic began that figure jumped to 27 percent.
NYU Langone Health in New York City saw a similar increase. “One of the unintentional consequences [of the pandemic] is patients who were previously apprehensive about going home the day of surgery now want to go home the same day to recover in their own environment,” says William Macaulay, M.D., chief of the Division of Adult Reconstructive Surgery in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery there.