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Need Hip,Will Travel

Need Hip,Will Travel

Patient finds healing through employer’s partnership with Johns Hopkins

Walt Walworth was unloading Christmas trees at his job in Bradenton, Florida, when he heard a “pop.”

“I thought I pulled a groin muscle,” he says. “I just took it easy for a few weeks and hoped it would get better.”

After months of no relief, Walworth went to his primary care doctor only to learn it was his hip—not his groin—that made the awful noise. He was diagnosed with avascular necrosis, or loss of blood supply to the bone, which causes bone tissue to die and eventually collapse. The disease affected both of his hips, but his right hip was more damaged and causing the most pain.

As a department manager at Lowe’s, Walworth would walk up to 12,000 steps a day from one end of the store to the other. Now, he was hardly able to walk any distance without assistance.

“I used a cane for six months,” he says. “Then, the pain got so bad that I needed a motorized scooter to get around. That’s when I knew it was time for surgery.”

Traveling for Care

As a Lowe’s employee, Walworth had the benefit of the Pacific Business Group on Health
Negotiating Alliance (PBGH). Under this plan, when employees of Lowe’s and Walmart choose to have knee and hip replacement surgeries at a Center of Excellence, they do not incur any costs. Consultations, care, travel and lodging are all covered at 100 percent.

“When I was told that I could choose from four hospitals to have my surgery, I knew I wanted the best,” says Walworth. “That’s why I chose Johns Hopkins.”

In February 2014, he came to Johns Hopkins Bayview for total hip replacement surgery with Paul Khanuja, M.D., chief of adult reconstruction—hip and knee replacement surgery.

“With the extent of damage to Walt’s hip, the only surgical option was a hip replacement,” says Dr. Khanuja. “It’s a life-changing procedure in patients, especially those with advanced avascular necrosis.”

Walworth returned to Florida less than a week after his surgery. Twelve weeks later, he was back to work and relatively pain free.

“I went from relying on a motorized cart to being fully functional,” he says. “It really was unbelievable.”

Second Time Around

In the fall of 2017, Walworth, now a manager at a Pittsburgh Lowe’s, began to experience similar symptoms in his left hip. He was able to manage the pain with medication and used a cane for stability. 

“I knew I was going to need another hip replacement,” he says. “I had such a good experience with Dr. Khanuja the first time that I knew I wanted to go back to him.”

Walworth returned to Johns Hopkins Bayview in March 2018 for a total replacement of his left hip. While this procedure was less complex than the first, his experience was similar. He returned home less than a week after his surgery and continued physical therapy at an outpatient facility. Three months later, he was back to work.

“My doctors couldn’t believe how well I was doing after this surgery,” Walworth says. “I owe it all to Dr. Khanuja and the incredible care of his team. From the moment I walked into the hospital, they took care of everything. I didn’t have to worry about a thing.”

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