Hip replacement: a local success story

Jan Bloss says UPMC’s “hometown feel” was a positive factor during and after her hip replacement surgery.

Jan Bloss, Port Allegany, was nervous on the day of her hip replacement surgery in June 2021. She had put it off as long as she could. But the pain had grown intolerable, to the point where she could barely stand.

Several things helped her that day. First, she knew her surgeon, Terrance Foust, D.O., because he had done surgery on her knee. Second, she was close to home: UPMC Cole is 30 minutes away.

But there was something else. Jan knew the people at UPMC Cole. They were her friends and neighbors. Some were even students her husband Denny had once coached.

“It was a hometown feel,” said Bloss, 67. That sense of comfort and being close to home made a huge difference.

Jan is now back to work driving a school bus part-time. She can also pick up and play with her great-grandchildren again.

But getting to the day of the surgery was a long and winding path for Jan, which is common for people getting joint replacements.

Joint replacement surgery is a big decision. People know that it will take time to heal and rehabilitate. But ultimately, as Bloss discovered, it’s life-changing on the other side.

“If I hadn’t waited, I would have been pain-free a lot sooner,” she said.

Jan always thought her hip pain must be due to her back pain, which she’s had most of her life. She worked in a factory, standing on a hard concrete floor, for several decades. She also had spondylolisthesis (vertebrae out of place) and inflammation in the spine. Doctors found fractures in four of the bones in her lower back.

When she could no longer endure the back pain, she went to UPMC in Pittsburgh for back surgery. “I have screws holding everything in place,” she said.

While that surgery helped her back pain, the pain in her right hip worsened. She tried a brace for her hip, which helped, but not enough. She was also on a high dose of pain medicine to function. She didn’t like being dependent on the pain meds.

Although Bloss liked the surgeon she saw in Pittsburgh, it was four hours away from Jan’s home, so she had to stay with her daughter after her last surgery. She wanted a more convenient option.

Fortunately, she had seen Dr. Foust at Coudersport.

“I trusted him and I knew he was good. So I thought, I’d just stay here in town.”

After her joint replacement surgery, Bloss went home after only one night in the hospital. She used a walker for the first few days but only needed a cane afterward. After about two weeks, she was able to ditch the cane. By the time she went back for her six-week checkup, she was walking on her own.

Bloss set herself up for success by following her doctor’s rehabilitation plan.

“I did everything I was supposed to do,” she says. That included going to physical therapy twice a week for six weeks.

It helped that Jeremy, her physical therapist, had wrestled for Denny in school. “I’ve known him all my life,” she said. “That’s what it’s like when you come from a small town.”

The familiarity and friendliness of everyone made the whole experience more manageable, even during the hard times. And all of the effort has paid off.

“I can mostly do what I want to do,” she said. That includes gardening, riding a side-by-side ATV with her husband and being active.

Bloss has no regrets about her decision to get a hip replacement at UPMC Cole. “They are family-oriented, they understand you and they do their best to help,” she said. The only thing she would change is making the decision earlier.