Happy senior couple on hiking trail near water.

Department: Surgery

Tenacity on the Trail: A hiking enthusiast's journey with outstanding orthopedic care

As a small public hospital, Island Health is proud to partner with some of the best specialty providers in the area. The following testimonial pays tribute to our partnership with Proliance Surgeons Skagit Northwest Orthopedics.

When avid hikers Susan and Jerry McClung set out on one of their favorite trails last fall, the plan was to climb both the east and west summits of Goose Rock and return to their car by sunset. That plan was thwarted when Susan slipped on bedrock that formed part of the trail and broke her hip. Thus began an epic night of adventure and a months-long journey of dedicated work, by both patient and caregivers.

Susan, who turned 79 in February, has hiked and cycled extensively abroad and is an experienced Nordic skier, whitewater rafter and career librarian. She tried in vain for 30 minutes to stand up after her fall, at which point, Susan called both the Deception Pass State Park (DPSP) ranger on duty and 9-1-1. By the time the first ranger arrived on bicycle, it was near dark. The adventurous rescue took three agencies (DPSP, Whidbey EMTs and North Whidbey Fire & Rescue) and was completed in darkness. Susan, with probable broken hip and borderline hypothermia, was taken to Island Health (IH) as it was closest in proximity.

Once admitted, Proliance Surgeon Dr. Eric Secrist acted fast. “He gave me very thorough, detailed and easy to understand options. Because I’m so active, we decided a full hip replacement was the best option,” she said.

The day after her surgery, Susan was cleared for discharge but stayed one extra day for occupational and physical therapy (PT), where she says the therapists gave her excellent therapy and valuable information for home. She received in-home PT for two weeks then graduated to outpatient therapy.

Happy senior couple on a hike.

And while her in-home therapist was extremely impressed by her rapid progress, Dr. Secrist was not at all surprised.

“Susan was strong and determined from the start, and I had no doubt she would put in the work and recover quickly,” Dr. Secrist said.

That work involved PT twice a week for five weeks, with Susan progressing quickly from a walker to cane to walking unassisted. She said her care at IH was nothing but exceptional.

“They gave me hard, but reasonable, goals and homework, and cheered me on along the way,” Susan said. “I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Susan and Jerry praise the Emergency Department personnel, X-ray technicians, surgical staff, social workers, nurses, certified nursing assistants, and all the therapists she saw (physical, occupational, respiratory) for the incredible care she received throughout the unplanned adventure. In addition to creating personal thank you’s for the IH team, Susan, together with Dr. Secrist, set a goal for her to hike Goose Rock once she healed completely. Remarkably, just two months later, Susan successfully realized this goal.

Proliance Surgeons Skagit Northwest Orthopedics provides exceptional joint replacement and spine surgery at Island Health. Their expert orthopedic surgeons combined with our award-winning surgical team—5-stars by Medicare—ensures you have access to the very best orthopedic surgery. To schedule an appointment with Proliance, call 360.424.7041.

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