One Oklahoma couple could have chosen their state for care. They could have selected a neighboring state too. Instead, they chose Jamestown Regional Medical Center and its Mayo-trained orthopedic surgeon.
Curt and Linda Meth live in Guthrie, Okla. The couple retired there after decades of raising animals, grain and seven children. Today, they have 14 great-grandchildren in Oklahoma and Texas. They travel to see them, spending months on the road in their RV, stopping at cowboy gatherings like rodeos, poetry readings and storytelling. When they are at home, they enjoy the outdoors, especially horseback riding.
Curt needed knee replacement surgery a few years ago, after a career of climbing in and out of tractors and semis as well as caring for horses, goats and donkeys. He couldn’t get around like he was used to and the couple wanted to maintain their active lifestyle.
“We just have a problem staying home,” Linda joked.
He knew it was time for a surgical intervention when he stopped at the North Dakota Winter Show in Valley City. After a day on his feet, he could barely walk through the parking lot to his pickup – it hurt so bad he needed multiple stops.
“That scared me,” he said. “I didn’t know if I’d get out of there.”
Though he was in pain, he wasn’t ready to slow down.
“There’s lots of things we want to do and we want to do them while we can,” Linda said.
The couple lives in Oklahoma now, however, when Curt needed surgery, the couple lived in Colorado. Curt selected a healthcare provider near him for his initial knee replacement. It didn’t go as he expected. Curt continued to have pain, lots of it. He was even so bow-legged; a goat could run between his knees.
“There’s a difference between care of up here and care in other parts of the country,” he said. “The care in Jamestown is more personal.”
Despite the surgery, Curt still hurt. He was in so much pain, he needed a second surgery to re-do the first. That’s when he called his daughter, Jamie Heinley.
Heinley and her siblings grew up near Carrington and graduated from Carrington High School. Curt and Linda moved from Carrington in 1994. Heinley serves as a social worker at JRMC. Her role is to support patients through their care journey. A social worker will help with discharge planning. This may involve helping someone get into a nursing home, for example, or ensure a patient understands what their insurance will cover and what it will not.
“I told dad to come up here,” she said. “I tell him I have a hard job because my role is to help people go home. When they stay at JRMC, they often don’t want to go home. They like the five-star treatment from our doctors and nurses.”
Curt couldn’t believe someone would want to stay in a hospital, even after discharge. That is, until he became a patient himself.
Every detail of his care exceeded his expectations, he said. His right knee replacement with JRMC Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Michael T. Dean created much less of the pain he felt with the left knee replacement out of state. Dr. Dean also replaced the original surgery on the left knee.
Today, the 81-year-old jokes that his knees are the only part of his body that don’t hurt.
In addition to the care at JRMC, Curt said he appreciated the nurses, the admissions team and even the kitchen.
“The food was excellent,” he said. “I appreciated everything here. I can see why people don’t mind staying here – it’s almost like a resort.”
After his recovery and physical therapy in Carrington, Curt could return to what he loved most. One of his goals was to ride his horse. Which he did.
“To be able to do that again was a happy day,” Linda said.
Today, its Linda’s turn for knee replacement surgery. And though the couple still lives in Oklahoma, they will travel the 830 miles to North Dakota again for her care.
“Curt was just insistent that I have my care up here,” Linda said.
Curt continues to recommend Dr. Dean to all his friends in the Carrington and Fessenden areas.
JRMC is a destination for care, Heinley said, a not just because it is her employer. JRMC is a Top 20 Critical Access Hospital out of 1,300 in the country and a Top 100 Best Place to Work. In addition, people from other cities and even states choose to receive their care in Jamestown, N.D.
“My parents could go anywhere in the country for their care,” she said. “They’re in the RV all the time and I have siblings across the U.S. However, they choose JRMC because the quality and outcomes exceed their expectations. Dr. Dean and his team really are legendary.”
Though he’s older today than he was when his knees were replaced, Heinley says her dad looks better than ever.
“You looked a little rough before that surgery,” she said. “That pain impacts your personality, sleep, everything. Today, you look younger than you did a few years ago.”
Linda said she’s starting to feel the same way.
“When you’re in pain like this, you miss out on life’s opportunities,” she said. “I want to take my great-grandchildren on trips in our RV. I want to travel. That’s what life is about. We would miss that if we didn’t have this level of care.”
Her surgery is scheduled for October. The retired nurse says she’s ready – not nervous.
“You just have to be able to move,” she said.
To learn more about Dr. Dean or care at JRMC, visit www.jrmcnd.com/orthopedics. Schedule direct at www.jrmcnd.com/appointment.