Local patients to receive free knee, hip replacements

SEATTLE -- Eleven uninsured patients will receive knee or hip replacements at Swedish Orthopedic Institute next week without paying a dime.

The patients are benefitting from a new partnership between Swedish Orthopedic Institute, Project Access Northwest and local physicians who have joined the nationwide campaign Operation Walk USA.

Painful joints, whether caused by chronic conditions such as arthritis, an injury, or a lifetime of wear and tear, prevent many from living healthy and productive lives. For many uninsured or underinsured patients, these conditions are a sentence to a lifetime of pain, frustration and dependency, Swedish Orthopedic Institute reports.

"The hip is so bad now that it's difficult to walk, difficult to sleep," said Gregory Arnold, a Seattle resident who will have his right hip replaced. "I can hardly imagine what it will be like to be able to walk again. It will extend my life by years."

Arnold's hip deteriorated after years of horseback riding and construction work. He is one of the 11 local patients, ages 48 to 63, who will benefit from orthopedic care donated by Swedish and local orthopedic surgeons, and free case management services provided by Project Access. The total value of donated care and services is more than $275,000.

"This is truly a community-wide effort," said Sallie Neillie, executive director of Project Access Northwest. "We are grateful to multiple organizations that made this happen - the screening and referral by the safety net clinics, the coordination of Project Access Northwest case managers, the donations of replacement joints from the manufacturers and the generous donations of professional services from Orthopedic Physician Associates, Physicians Anesthesia Services and others. All of these organizations have come together to provide these surgeries for patients who desperately need them."