Dr. Johnson gives Leanne a new hip and a new happiness

Leanne Goettelman
Leanne Goettelman is pain-free after after a hip replacement at Winneshiek Medical Center.

“I saw the quality of my life diminishing: Walking was becoming so difficult for me that I would stay sitting in the car while my husband ran our errands, and often I would simply choose to stay at home rather than go anywhere. ” The pain in Leanne Goettelman’s right hip was affecting her life so greatly that she recalls waking up in the morning only to think she would hurt until bedtime that night. “I had given up hope that I would ever feel normal again. Pain had become part of my life,” says Leanne.

Everything changed for Leanne when her husband, Dale, picked up the newspaper one afternoon. “Dale read an article introducing a new orthopedic surgeon at Winneshiek Medical Center. We had been anticipating hip replacement surgery at Mayo Clinic, but after reading that this new surgeon was coming within 12 miles of our home in Spillville, we thought it would be worth a consultation at Winneshiek Medical Center,” says Leanne.

Glenn Johnson, M.D., Mayo Clinic Health System orthopedic surgeon at Winneshiek Medical Center became the object of Leanne’s research. “I looked him up online, researching his career of over 30 years and his minimally invasive joint replacement approach. I was very encouraged by what I found. I also created a list of 25 questions for him to answer at our first appointment,” Leanne recalls.

By the end of her consult appointment, Leanne had scheduled surgery. “My first impression of Dr. Johnson was that he was very down-to-earth. As we visited, he impressed me with his tremendous experience and extreme confidence that this surgery would work,” says Leanne. “The more we visited, the more confident I became.”

Patients receiving hip, knee and ankle replacements at Winneshiek Medical Center may benefit from minimally invasive surgery, or surgery using just one or two small incisions. Dr. Johnson says, “With minimally invasive procedures, patients generally have shorter hospital stays, and experience less pain, more cosmetic incisions, less muscle damage and faster rehabilitation when compared with traditional joint replacement surgery. Leanne had advanced osteo-arthritis of her right hip, a condition most likely caused by heredity. She was an ideal candidate for a minimally invasive hip replacement.”

Three weeks after her consult, Leanne and Dale drove to Decorah for surgery. Leanne says, “When I arrived, a long-time friend and nurse at Winneshiek Medical Center greeted me with a smile on her face. Then Dr. Johnson came to see me before surgery. He had a wonderful sense of humor, and his compassion and confidence showed – he reassured me he was going to fix me.”

Leanne was soon out of surgery and in recovery. She says, “What started out as an anxious experience became wonderful – kind of a human experience. As I lay in my hospital bed I did a lot of observing – and I thought nobody will believe the quality of the health care we have in Decorah. It is not only the care, it is concern for the patient – you are not a number in Decorah.”

Leanne recovered at Winneshiek Medical Center, and then chose to remain as a swing bed patient. “During the latter half of my hospital stay, the therapists taught me how to go up and down steps and how to avoid injury.” Every day Leanne could feel improvements. “The only pain I had was incision pain, no hip pain – it was gone,” says Leanne.

Just two months following her surgery, Leanne is pain-free. “I have absolutely no pain – none at all,” she says. “I now walk one mile every day, get in and out of the car without concern and can even sit on the couch with my legs crossed in a lotus position! People don’t realize the type of care available at Winneshiek Medical Center. The compassion, personal care and attention to patient safety I felt from each and every person who entered my room was something I had never experienced anywhere else.”

“I believe in human angels – people who come into your life for a short time just when you need them,” says Leanne. “Dr. Glenn Johnson is my angel. He has given me my life back.”