Successful Surgery Puts NMC Patient Back in the Swing

For avid golfer John Wilson, PhD, a rotator cuff injury meant more than just shoulder pain — it was a potential lifestyle changer.

The retired Wichita State University professor and longtime Kansas educator has, for many years, played competitive golf, hitting the links six times a week. Consequently, when he faced shoulder surgery last spring, getting back on the course in the shortest time possible was a key goal.  It was a goal that Newton Medical Center (NMC) orthopedic surgeon, Ryan Livermore, MD, his team, and the professionals at Newton Therapy & Sports Performance helped him achieve: Just three months after his surgery, Dr. Wilson returned to competitive play.

“This was easily two months ahead of the timeframe identified by Dr. Livermore and physician assistant Brian Zerger,” Dr. Wilson says. “The reason: excellence in surgery and excellence in therapy. Today, about the time suggested as a possible recovery date, I’m playing golf as if I had never had the rotator cuff surgery, maybe even a little stronger.”

Dr. Wilson recalls his entire NMC experience as a positive one, with care delivered by a team that exemplified skill, professionalism and respect. When he knew he had to have surgery, he casually asked a church friend — who happened to be NMC President and CEO Val Gleason — if she knew a surgeon who could treat his shoulder problem. Her recommendation of Dr. Livermore was immediate and enthusiastic.

“First impressions are powerful,” Dr. Wilson says, “and my initial visit with Dr. Livermore bears this out. I was treated with the utmost respect, and provided with a most detailed and thorough explanation of the surgery. Dr. Livermore talked through all stages of the surgical procedure. He was enviably personable and obviously sincerely cared about the overall welfare of his patients.  In sum, he exuded confidence and this was contagious with me.”

From Dr. Wilson’s registration to admission to release, he says every detail was covered, and every NMC team member punctual, pleasant, competent and willing to answer questions. Once released from the hospital, his journey continued with follow-up care from Zerger, and Newton Therapy & Sports Performance physical therapist Zandra Sawatzky.

“In every meeting with Brian, I continued to enjoy the sense of complete confidence in this surgery team,” says Dr. Wilson. “He conducted each examination professionally with a sincere willingness to answer all of my questions, no matter how naïve. Brian, being a golfer himself, shared my motivation, but cautioned me about rushing the journey and further damaging the shoulder. It was great advice!”

Sawatzky challenged Dr. Wilson with an aggressive regimen of physical therapy, personalized to help him meet his goals and return quickly to his activities.

“My inclination at first was to resist the directions Zandra mandated as they seemed to be a little ambitious,” he says laughing. “I soon learned that you don’t resist Zandra. She is the consummate professional who knows best what needs to be performed and at what pace. I am absolutely certain that the time it took me to return to playing golf was determined by how she executed my therapy.”

Once given the go-ahead, Dr. Wilson began practicing putts and shots, gradually working up to his full swing, a process watched with great interest by his fellow golfers. In fact, one of his friends, another long-time golfer, had been through the same surgical experience with Dr. Livermore with the same positive results two years earlier.

“I’ve shared the details of my own surgery experience at the Newton Medical Center many, many times,” says Dr. Wilson. “The hospital has earned the highest commendation I can articulate. From the first meeting with Dr. Livermore until being finally released I was made to feel important, respected, and worthy of each professional’s time, energy, and resources.”