The Gift of Mobility Comes from Free Hip, Knee Replacements for Patients in Need

AdventHealth joins forces with other organizations to assist people without health coverage.

AdventHealth and Southern Tidings
The Gift of Mobility Comes from Free Hip, Knee Replacements for Patients in Need
Chris Robinson and Lori Roth chat about their upcoming joint replacement surgeries at AdventHealth Carrollwood, provided at no cost through Operation Walk USA. [Photo: AdventHealth Carrollwood]

As part of a nationwide effort to help patients in the U.S. with debilitating joint conditions improve their quality of life, AdventHealth Carrollwood in Tampa, Florida, Orthopedic Institute, and Pioneer Medical Foundation have joined forces for a third year to provide free hip and knee replacements in the Tampa Bay, Florida, area. They helped 25 individuals who may not qualify for government health coverage, lack insurance, or can’t afford surgery.

“When we talk about procedures that can really enable and get patients back to functioning, there’s nothing better than a hip and knee replacement,” said Brian Palumbo, who has led the effort to bring together the three organizations to participate in the program and fill a critical need.

Palumbo said there is an ever-increasing demand for orthopedic surgeons, leading some patients to struggle to find access to care, especially those without health coverage.

“The incidence of hip and knee arthritis and severe disease which requires a joint replacement is rising almost exponentially,” Palumbo said. “There’s actually a shortage of joint replacement surgeons that’s expected in the next decade or so. It’s certainly a potential issue in the future for the United States.”

Patients said the opportunity to have these free surgeries will be life-changing for them.

Lori Roth, 56, is an Orlando, Florida, resident undergoing left hip joint replacement due to an auto accident that left her in excruciating pain.

AdventHealth Carrollwood, in Tampa, Florida, United States. [Photo: AdventHealth Carrollwood]

After working in real estate and auto auctions for many years, she said the pain forced her to stop.

“I’m just grateful from the bottom of my heart that all these people take their time and have so much love in their hearts to help people like us,” she said. “Because before I found them, I thought I was going to have to lay in bed in pain and wait to die. I wasn’t really capable of doing anything to care for myself.”

Chris Robinson, 57, a Tampa resident, is receiving his first surgery with this program after more than 20 years of debilitating pain. Robinson worked in the restaurant industry, and later as a baseball umpire, until the pain was too much and he couldn’t work anymore.

“I’m very excited. I’m going to be having my right hip replaced this year. It gives me back my life, or at least half of it, because the left one is going to be replaced next year!” he said. “As far as mobility goes, any mobility is better than what I have now. It’s difficult getting up and down. I haven’t been able to squat in nearly two years. It’s basically going to give normal activity back to me.”

Nearly 200 staff volunteers from AdventHealth Carrollwood helped to complete the surgeries, which all took place in early January at AdventHealth Carrollwood.

AdventHealth is partnering with Operation Walk USA, a humanitarian organization now in its 13th year, that works with participating hospitals around the country. The program takes place each December through early January as a way for orthopedic surgeons to give back to the community and help patients gain the mobility and quality of life they once enjoyed.

To date, free joint replacements — including surgery, hospitalization, and pre/post-operative care — have been provided for 866 patients and surgeries valued at more than US$23.3 million, AdventHealth leaders reported. “In 2024, an estimated 50 surgeries will take place across the country at 20 hospitals, including AdventHealth Carrollwood, with an estimated 25 orthopedic surgeons dedicating their time and expertise,” they said.

The original version of this story was posted by Southern Tidings.

AdventHealth and Southern Tidings