Memorial Regional Health: Orthopedic surgery in Craig |

Memorial Regional Health: Orthopedic surgery in Craig

Care close to home can be the best care

Memorial Regional Health
Health column
Tom Kleinschnitz had a recent knee replacement at Memorial Regional Health. Pictured here with his wife, Denise, and their three dogs, Kleinschnitz appreciated having orthopedic care so close to home.
Courtesy photo

Sometimes care close to home is the best care. That’s what Tom Kleinschnitz learned when he had his knee replaced at Memorial Regional Hospital in Craig last year.

When his knee was hurting in early 2022, the then-65-year-old made an appointment at Moffat County Employee Health and Wellness Center. An X-ray revealed bone-on-bone osteoarthritis. This means that the cartilage in Kleinschnitz’s knee joint had thinned to the point that the bones were starting to rub together.

“I didn’t anticipate that my knee was in that bad of shape,” said Kleinschnitz, who is the director of tourism for Moffat County and also serves on Craig City Council.

After allowing the news to sink in, Kleinschnitz made an appointment with Steamboat Orthopaedics & Spine Institute (SOSI) Surgeon Michael Sisk, at SOSI’s Craig office. “He told me that my knee wasn’t going to get any better. ‘You can go without knee replacement for a while, but you’ll continue to have pain,’ he said. So I thought about it some more and decided to go ahead with the solution.”

Surgery and Physical Therapy

Dr. Sisk performed knee replacement surgery on Kleinschnitz at MRH on July 15.

“I came to the hospital in the morning, had the procedure, stayed one night and went home the next day,” Kleinschnitz said.

The procedure went well. He had some pain when he roused after the surgery, but it was soon controlled by pain medication.

“After that, the glide path was nice,” Kleinschnitz said. “The nurses were very attentive and helped me during my stay. Then I started in on my physical therapy.”

Kleinschnitz reported to MRH for his PT appointments twice a week for six weeks followed by once a week for a few more weeks. In between, he did his assigned exercises at home.

“PT isn’t necessarily fun after surgery, but one just needs to go,” he said. “Plus, it’s reassuring to have someone checking on the incision, watching your mobility and ensuring you’re healing well.”

Right here in Craig

For patients like Kleinschnitz, comprehensive orthopedic care — including many types of orthopedic surgeries — is available right here at MRH.

Dr. Sisk recently retired, but several other SOSI surgeons also perform orthopedic surgeries at MRH, including Drs. Andreas Sauerbrey, Alejandro Miranda, Patrick Johnston, William Howarth and J. Alex Sielatycki.

Amy Nielson is a Registered Nurse at Memorial Regional Health and serves as Orthopedics Coordinator. It’s her job to ensure orthopedic patients are guided through whatever care process they need and understand all the steps. On the provider side, she coordinates the team, which may include an orthopedic physician assistant, a surgeon and anesthesiology and operating room staff when needed, primary care providers, imaging technologists, physical therapists and more.

“We try to coordinate everything for our patients as much as possible,” Nielson said. “We want everything to be smooth and stress-free.”

“Staying in Craig for all my care was best,” said Kleinschnitz. “Traveling is a huge inconvenience. It was really nice to have surgery and PT just two miles from my home. It was also reassuring to my wife, Denise. And Dr. Sisk assured me that the facilities and staff make operating and pre- and postoperative care here very good.”

Now, six months after surgery, Kleinschnitz is back to walking his usual two and a half miles a day. “I’m no longer in pain, and my mobility gets better all the time,” he said.

The Kleinschnitzes have five grandkids to keep up with, so mobility is important.

River rafting is what drew Kleinschnitz to the Craig area decades ago, and he’s eager to raft the Yampa, Green and Colorado this summer.

“I missed the 2022 season,” he said. “So I’m looking forward to getting back on the water in the spring.”  

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