‘From Top to Bottom’: Orthopedic Patient Wowed by Care at Jennie EdmundsonPublished: Nov. 15, 2022
Kevin Rothermund and his wife, Tammy
It’s a rare and “cringe inducing” injury, said MD West One orthopedic surgeon H. Wesley Cheng, MD.
About one in 100,000 people each year will experience a ruptured quadriceps tendon – when the tissue connecting the quadriceps muscles to the kneecap is completely torn.
Kevin Rothermund was “doubly unfortunate,” Dr. Cheng said, rupturing both of his quads in mid-September.
“I sure wish I could tell you a cool story, but it’s the lamest story you’ll ever hear,” said Kevin, who lives near Logan, Iowa.
He had just taken a shower and was walking down the stairs at home when he slipped and missed a step – at least that’s what he thinks, because it all happened so fast. As his right leg came down hard, his quad tore from the kneecap. As he tried to catch himself with left leg, he missed another step, put his foot down and tore his left quad. Then he hit the ground.
“The pain that I felt, gosh dang,” he said. “I didn’t know something could be so painful. On top of that, your legs don’t work anymore. It was awful.”
Kevin was taken by ambulance to the hospital in Missouri Valley, where he learned that the nearest facility able to properly care for him was Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital.
“I’m sure glad it happened that way because of the people there,” he said.
A Partnership With Patients in Mind
After his accident, the news wasn’t good for Kevin. The quadriceps tendon allows people to kick a leg forward or stand from a squat or seated position – and he had torn both. Surgery and a lengthy recovery were the only recommended option.
But there was good news: Kevin was exactly where he needed to be. Thanks to Methodist’s partnership with MD West One, patients at Jennie Edmundson and other Methodist locations benefit from the expertise of one of the largest teams of orthopedic, neurosurgery and spine specialists in the region.
“This collaboration is an opportunity to cover all the bases of all orthopedic needs,” Dr. Cheng said. “Together, we have the people power to supply that. We can do anything that needs to be done for our patients.”
After examining Kevin at Jennie Edmundson, one of Dr. Cheng’s partners called him because of his expertise with tendon rupture. Kevin’s surgery would involve passing heavy sutures and stitches through the tendons, then anchoring them to his kneecaps.
Even while facing such a serious injury and surgery, Kevin’s positive attitude shone through.
“He was very eager and motivated,” Dr. Cheng said. “He said, ‘Let’s get the surgery done. Let’s get the rehab started so I can get back to regular life.’”
Positivity at Every Turn
Kevin spent a week at Jennie Edmundson – four days before the surgery, then two more after. He was so impressed by the positive, caring atmosphere he found that he wrote a note to hospital leaders after he returned home.
Among his comments: “I did not come across anyone that dampened my spirits. Just the opposite. This hospital should be very proud of the team they put together from top to bottom.”
Later asked about who stood out, Kevin struggled to narrow the list.
“I cannot say enough about everybody there,” he said. “Surgery. MRI techs. People who checked my blood. Housekeeping was great. Even when I ordered my food, the people were crazy nice. Everybody there is so caring and concerned. I’ve been to the hospital before, but nothing like that. That was amazing.”
Among the staff members Kevin remembered was physical therapist Kim Greiner, DPT, who worked with him before and after his surgery. He specifically remembers how Greiner and other staff encouraged him to walk with assistance before the surgery, an important part of his treatment plan.
“Holy smokes, they were amazing and encouraging,” he said. “I was scared to even get out of bed and attempt to get on a walker. Just their demeanor and encouragement of me trying to make that step. They got me to make that step, and once I did, it was just nothing but encouragement and positivity.”
If Kevin was unsure of himself, Greiner didn’t notice.
“We went in there with the perception that he was probably going to require a lot of help,” she said. “But Kevin was so independent and motivated. He needed a little bit of help with the raised bed, but he stood right up, and that first time we saw him, he walked a total of 300 feet. That was completely unheard of based on that injury.”
Another memory that sticks out for Kevin is how one of his Ortho/Neuro Unit nurses, Kolby Miller, RN, stopped by on a day off – daughter in tow – to check in and say hello.
“Just stuff like that, you can’t say enough,” Kevin said. “You feel like the people actually care.”
Miller remembers visiting Kevin that day, but he didn’t think much of it at the time. He was simply in the building and wanted to see a patient he had bonded with.
“That goes into taking care of somebody,” Miller said. “I try to see the person as a whole – not just a medical chart or a paycheck. If you show a person that you care about them holistically, it will make them feel better not only about their health, but make them feel better as a whole.”
Kevin has been home for over a month now and continues to recover. He gets around with the aid of a walker and wears special braces that limit how much he bends his knees. He visits a physical therapist in Logan, slowly working to improve his legs’ range of motion. And he checks in periodically with Dr. Cheng. If all goes as planned, Kevin should achieve a near full recovery by spring – six months after his injury.
Most of his motivation to meet that goal has been his wife, Tammy.
“I don’t think I would have tried so hard to get home if it wasn’t for her,” he said. “She’s been a rock star on my way to recovery, doing all the heavy lifting of everyday life.”
But he also credits the team at Jennie Edmundson for helping him stay positive in the face of such a debilitating injury.
“I truly will remember them and appreciate them forever.”