Melanie becomes a patient while being a nurse at MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center

Ever since she was a child, Melanie Reyes was a very active individual, playing basketball from childhood through high school, and starting martial arts after high school. Melanie continued her martial arts well into adulthood. However, as she got older, she wasn’t able to be as active as she would have liked because of the pain and discomfort in her hips. Melanie suffered from torn labrums in her hips and severe osteoarthritis from being extremely active for such a long time. She decided to undergo hip replacement surgery, and knew of no better place to go than her place of employment – the MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center at Long Beach Medical Center.

Melanie has been a nurse at the MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center for 15 years, and turned to the Center for her procedure because she wanted a better quality of life, especially seeing how well her patients did. For five years, doctors believed that there was a problem with her lower back, but Andrew Wassef, M.D., medical director, MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center, Long Beach Medical Center, figured out that her hips were causing the problem.

Dr. Wassef performed a total hip replacement on Melanie’s left hip with Mako SmartRoboticsTM, a robotic-assisted surgical technology. Using the Mako SmartRoboticsTM brings a new level of precision to joint replacement surgery. In Melanie’s case, it provided a 3D model of her unique anatomy which assisted Dr. Wassef in pre-planning and precise placement of Melanie’s joint implant, resulting in a more accurate placement and alignment of hip implants and less likelihood of hip dislocation in the future. With her first hip surgery being a success, Melanie returned to the Joint Replacement Center to have her right hip replaced.

“Taking care of one of our own hits a little closer to home,” says Dr. Wassef. “Melanie was an excellent patient and had a great attitude. She’s done such great work with her patients despite her pain, so we wanted to do our best for her.”

Since both procedures were minimally invasive, Melanie was able to leave the hospital the day after her surgery. A week after her most recent hip replacement surgery, Melanie started going to the MemorialCare Rehabilitation Institute at Long Beach Medical Center.

After her recovery, Melanie believed that she got her life back. Three months after her surgery, she was able to test for and earn her blue belt, feeling a tremendous accomplishment. Her hip replacement has also allowed her to better serve the patients in the Joint Replacement Center.

“Now that I understand what they went through, I think I can better empathize with our patients at the Joint Replacement Center,” says Melanie. “Even though I work here, I told the staff to treat me just like a patient, because I don’t know everything that’s going on. I believe that I can better connect with patients now because I went through exactly what they’re going through.”

Due to her unique experience as a patient in her place of work, Melanie found it fitting that she would take over teaching the Joint Replacement Center and Spine Center Pre-Op Program while the main teacher is on maternity leave. For four months, Melanie will be educating patients on exactly what to expect before, during, and after their operation, as well as answering any questions or concerns they may have going into surgery. At first, she felt reluctant to teach patients about the procedures, but now she is more than willing to give her patients confidence in the team she works with and ease their anxieties, since she has been in their shoes.

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