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Joint & Spine Patient Stories

St. John's Peak Joint & Spine program has exceedingly strong surgical outcomes. Read and watch our patients' stories about their experience at St. John's!


Carla WatsabaughCarla Watsabaugh

Retired, Teton County Courthouse
L 4-5 fusion surgery

“Dr. Hills is a man who walks on water. I couldn't be happier with my recovery from my fusion surgery. That surgery was easier than the gall bladder surgery I had. The staff, nurses, and everyone were great. The class was so good. It relieved my anxiety and answered my questions. I wasn’t on pain pills for long, and I was driving on day 10. I would do it again if I had to.”

Joyce Ames, RNJoyce Ames, RN

Retired nurse
Microdisectomy

After injuring her back, Joyce was determined not to have surgery. She hoped it would take care of itself. When it didn’t, she went to Dr. Chris Hills. “Knowing he had completed a spine fellowship at Duke meant a lot to me,” she said. She was also comforted by knowing that he’d done 200-300 of these surgeries previously. “My experience at the hospital was excellent. There was great continuity of care. There were things that I learned in the pre-op class that I didn’t know. I was impressed. Even though I’m a nurse, that helped alleviate my stress. I like that they took you to the PT room and made sure you could go up and down stairs.” She admitted that the first week was hard, but she weaned herself off pain medications. “Twelve weeks after back surgery, I was playing golf, kayaking, hiking, and downhill skiing. People need to know that this is an excellent hospital, with well-trained, experienced surgeons. You don't have to go to Idaho Falls or Salt Lake to get this kind of care.”

Roger ScottRoger Scott

Double knee replacement surgery
Roger’s knees were beginning to pay the price of a lifetime of activity, including logging hundreds of miles of hiking each summer. “You could get a view of the Tetons by looking through the gap between my legs,” he said of his formerly bowed and unstable legs. No stranger to the joint replacement process, Roger had had two shoulder replacements previously at St. John’s. The new joint replacement classes, part of the Peak Joint Replacement program, “helped me feel more comfortable knowing what would happen next,” he said. "I haven't walked this straight or tall in four years. We are fortunate that this town has this kind of a program. The nurses were incredible. People know you and are kind. The hospital just keeps getting better and better."

Nancy RufenerNancy Rufener

Two knee replacements, a shoulder replacement, and back surgery
Nancy has been something of a frequent flier at the Peak Joint & Spine program. Or maybe just a bionic woman. “My body is falling apart, but the Neals [Dr. Mary Neal and Dr. Bill Neal] are putting me back together,” she said. In 2006, she had bilateral knee replacement surgery and had a great recovery. Then she had shoulder replacement surgery in 2016. Because she is so active, a plastic part on one of her knee replacements wore out and needed to be replaced in November 2017. At the same time, she had a cyst removed from the L4-5 joint in her back. She will have the other knee replacement “revised” in the fall of 2018. Now she is back to her active lifestyle. "We are so lucky to have such a fine medical staff. All of my experiences have been nothing but good. The class was great. I'm looking forward to hiking, traveling, and taking care of a large yard and greenhouse."
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