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Dr. Pate’s Prescription for Change

St. Luke’s Health System’s Journey to Transform Health Care

Knee Surgery is a Team Effort – and a Team Victory

Dr. Pate and Dr. Jennifer Shalz.
By Dr. David C. Pate, News and Community
November 7, 2017
Taking a walk with my nurse and my wife, three hours after surgery!

In an August blog post, I wrote about my pending total knee replacement and steps I was taking to prepare for that surgery, and promised to share an update.

Before the surgery, I knew that I was overweight, that my quadriceps muscle had atrophied because I had been limping and that both of these factors could mean my recovery might be suboptimal. It would be better if I could go into surgery with my weight down and my strength up.

For me, the question was how I was going to accomplish this when my knee was so painful that my activity was limited?

That’s when I learned about the “pre-hab” program being developed by St. Luke’s Dr. Jennifer Shalz. The approach accounts for diet and exercise prior to surgery to make patients more successful with their rehab.

I jumped at the chance to test the program. I went on a plant-based, whole-foods diet to lose weight and decrease the inflammatory environment in my body, and worked with an exercise physiologist who gave me an exercise program that I could do that would strengthen my quadriceps muscle, but not aggravate my knee pain.

I adhered to my diet and exercise plan and had the surgery on Aug. 14.

So, how did I do?

I lost 50 pounds – about half before surgery and about half in the following two months. I regained the strength in my quadriceps before surgery, and I think that really helped in speeding up my recovery.

I avoided all complications of surgery and have exceeded all of my goals for rehab.

I am grateful to all the wonderful caregivers at St. Luke’s – the surgeon, physician assistant, anesthesiologist, nurses and nursing assistants and physical therapists. I also want to give a particular shout-out to the nutrition department at St. Luke’s Meridian for wonderful meals while I was in the hospital!

I knew the St. Luke’s team was great, but I also knew that it was up to me to take accountability for my part in all of this – improving my health the best I could.

About The Author

David C. Pate, M.D., J.D., previously served as president and CEO of St. Luke's Health System, based in Boise, Idaho. Dr. Pate joined the System in 2009 and retired in 2020. He received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.