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Standing Tall: New Milford Woman Conquers Spinal Deformity

Monday, March 28, 2011 - Danbury, CT

Dr Web and Dr Kramer

David L. Kramer, M.D.
Co-Medical Director of the Spine Program
Danbury Hospital
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Daniel G. George, MD
Orthopedic Surgeon
New Milford Hospital
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Western Connecticut Healthcare Keeps Specialty Care Close to Home

A painful spinal deformity kept Jean Bowman from enjoying her favorite activities – playing with her grandchildren, swimming, even wearing high heels – for years. But the turning point came when she noticed her body tilting to the left.

“I’m not putting off surgery anymore,” said the New Milford resident, who could no longer ignore the crooked image in the mirror. “I want to enjoy the rest of my life.”

Today, Bowman is living life to the fullest with a perfectly straight frame and absolutely no pain following complex spinal surgery performed at Danbury Hospital. The procedure brought together the expertise of her longtime physician, Daniel C. George, MD, of New Milford Orthopedic Associates, and David Kramer, MD, co-director of the Spine Center at Danbury Hospital and an orthopedic spine surgeon who specializes in scoliosis.

“The toughest part of my recovery has been the cabin fever! I can’t wait to play baseball with my grandkids,” she said. “I am so grateful to those two wonderful physicians.”

New era of collaboration benefits patients

Bowman’s success story sheds light on the type of collaborative approach to patient care taking place at Western Connecticut Healthcare, a regional healthcare delivery system that includes the combined resources of Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital, and its affiliated visiting nurse associations.

“This is a great example of two institutions that were once competitors working together to deliver the highest and safest level of care to area residents,” said John Murphy, MD, president and chief executive officer of Western Connecticut Healthcare. “Patients have easy access to a broader continuum of expertise and services right in their community.”

The best of two worlds

For Bowman, having surgery at Danbury Hospital under the auspices of two exceptional orthopedic spine surgeons offered the best of both worlds. She maintained her relationship with Dr. George, the New Milford orthopedic spine surgeon she has known and trusted for years, while at the same time tapping Dr. Kramer’s expertise treating complex scoliosis. Bowman works with Dr. George in the same orthopedic practice.

“It was especially reassuring to see both doctors right before going into surgery,” said Bowman. “I could tell by the confident way they both spoke that I was going to do well.” Both surgeons saw her daily during her hospital stay. Staying close to home for surgical care made it easy for her husband to visit, as well. “Everyone at Danbury Hospital was pleasant, supportive and right there no matter what I needed,” she said.

Complex case calls for specialized care

Both surgeons agreed that the complexity of Bowman’s case lent itself to collaboration.

“Jean’s problem was more complicated than the average patient who requires spine surgery. She needed multiple levels of her lower back fused. She also had a three-dimensional spinal deformity and multiple areas of pressure on the spinal cord and nerves,” explained Dr. Kramer. “Dr. George is an experienced spinal surgeon. But with the added complexity of the deformity and the multiple fusions, why not take advantage of the scoliosis expertise available at Danbury Hospital? Jean was able to keep her follow up care local while capitalizing on the rehabilitation advice of two spine surgeons.”

Dr. George, who performs surgery at several area hospitals, said Bowman’s care was enhanced by the specialized care available at the Spine Center at Danbury Hospital. “It’s good to have Danbury Hospital and its community of orthopedic spine surgeons and neurosurgeons available to consult on those occasional complex cases that may be better served by a larger hospital and a spine team approach,” he said. “Working with Dr. Kramer and the staff at Danbury Hospital was an exceptional experience. I felt welcomed and part of the team.”

The experience was especially poignant for Dr. Kramer, who as a member of the Danbury Hospital Board of Directors has been part of the effort to create Western Connecticut Healthcare from the start. “To go from being part of the long-range planning process to actually being in the operating room with a New Milford colleague and seeing how our new partnership benefits patients has been the most rewarding experience of all,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the next opportunity.”

On the road to recovery

Bowman said she feels fortunate to have so many healthcare resources at her disposal with Western Connecticut Healthcare. But mostly, she’s thrilled to be active again. She already painted the bedroom, has booked summertime fun with her grandchildren and plans to get back to her fancy shoes. “I’ve really missed my high heels!”

About New Milford Hospital

New Milford Hospital, established in 1921, is an 85 bed hospital well known for its Planetree approach to patient care and strong community commitment. It provides centers of excellence in acute care, orthopedics, cancer, family birthing and other services.

About Danbury Hospital

Danbury Hospital is a 371-bed regional medical center and university teaching hospital associated with the University Of Vermont College Of Medicine, the Yale University School of Medicine, the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center. The hospital provides centers of excellence in orthopedics, cardiovascular services, cancer, weight loss surgery, digestive disorders, radiology and diagnostic imaging. It also offers specialized programs for sleep disorders and asthma management. Medical staff members are board-certified in their specialties.

At the Joint Replacement and Spine Centers a team of board-certified/fellowship trained orthopedic specialists have adopted proven, minimally invasive procedures for orthopedic surgery, resulting in less pain, faster recovery, and a higher level of accuracy. The Center continues to be a leader in clinical outcomes for joint replacement and surgical procedures of the spine. It is also one of the few facilities in the state to offer surgical treatment of spinal deformities including adolescent scoliosis.