Outcomes: A Patient Experience

Teachers don’t just know how to dish out assignments; they can do their homework as well.

Take Ann Wrzosek-Manor, for instance.

The Chippewa Falls art teacher had sched- uled a knee replacement surgery in nearby Eau Claire. For the uninitiated, health care costs in that region are some of the highest in the na- tion. Then she learned her school district had partnered with a group called NOVO Health for cost-saving bundled procedures.

Wrzosek-Manor did her research and discovered she could get priority access to high-quality care through NOVO Health. And when she found out what those cost savings actually were, she was dumbfounded.

“I can’t believe how much difference there is in the price of health care from one area to the next for the exact same procedure,” said Wrzosek-Manor. “It was literally half the price for a knee replacement surgery in Appleton.”

Such cost savings allow the school district to offer incentives to employees for choosing a NOVO Health provider for a procedure (in the case of a total joint replacement, the typical incentive is $2,000).

The twelve-year classroom veteran was having issues with both knees, so much so that she would plan how she could reduce the num- ber of times she needed to go to the school office in order to save steps.

“It just got to the point where I couldn’t handle the pain anymore,” said Wrzosek-Manor.

One day, just walking, she felt something tear and her knee gave out. Of course, it happened in a gym packed with colleagues during a district in-service program.

After injections and other methods failed to provide lasting relief, Wrzosek-Manor sched- uled knee replacement surgery in Eau Claire. When she learned about NOVO Health, she decided to switch her appointment to one of their providers, the Orthopedic & Sports Insti- tute (OSI).

OSI’s Dr. Ken Schaufelberger would be Wr- zosek-Manor’s choice. The board-certified or- thopedic surgeon offered her one in return.

“Both my knees were candidates for replace- ment,” said Wrzosek-Manor. “I could start with either one.”

Her first knee replacement was performed in the summer of 2019; Wrzosek-Manor started the school year on time. Schaufelberger per- formed the second last December, and Wrzosek-Manor returned to school six weeks later. Her plan to finish the 2020 school year in the normal fashion was cut short a month later.

“Both my knees were awesome,” said Wrzo- sek-Manor. “The coronavirus was the problem.” When asked what daily activities were af- fected by her knee pain, Wrzosek-Manor re-

plied with a single word: everything. Four-mile walks were gone, she didn’t bike anymore, couldn’t work at the potter’s wheel.

“I was at the point where I was either going to give up everything I loved to do, or I was going to get this done,” she said. “My knees are 100 times better since surgery.”

Upon Wrzosek-Manor’s return to school following the second knee replacement, her stu- dents requested their teacher show just how much better those new knees were.

“They wanted to see me leap over the school with my ‘bionic’ knees,” she said.

During recovery, Wrzosek-Manor put a chart on the wall of the things she wanted to do when she returned to health. At the top of her list was to get a recumbent bicycle and bike whenever the spirit moved her.

Wrzosek-Manor got her bike, and the spirit moves her often. “My knees are so much better,” she said. “And I got both done in Appleton for the price of one here.”

Scott Hutchinson

Scott Hutchinson

Scott Hutchinson is a writer and content creator for NOVO Health.

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