Finding Relief… Started with One Phone Call
Joint issues, broken bones and back and neck pain are issues many deal with on a daily basis. Finding care for these conditions can be confusing and time consuming. The Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center, a physician referral line, is a great resource to help patients connect with physicians who treat all types of spine, joint and orthopedic conditions. With specialized patient navigators, it just takes one call to find the care you need.
Heather Herold is a young, active and determined professional woman. After 15 years of living with back and neck pain, she had had enough. After multiple consultations with various doctors and receiving overwhelming amounts of information and opinions, this Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center patient found solace in speaking with a Patient Navigator who helped her connect with Dr. Richard Guyer. Dr. Guyer is an orthopedic spine surgeon, who is a participating physician in the program, a co-director of the Center for Disc Replacement and a co-founder of Texas Back Institute.
Before her journey with the Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center began, Heather ran into a friend at the pool and mentioned that it was nice to be in the water and exercising. She was not able to do a lot of high-impact exercise due to her back and neck injuries. “My friend told me about the Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center, and she set me up with a Patient Navigator,” Heather recalls. “This was going to be my third opinion. After every other consultation, I walked out an absolute mess, not feeling comfortable with what doctors had told me. I still wanted to exercise and did not want to start with huge back surgeries,” she explains.
Before Heather sought treatment, daily living was getting difficult. “I am in sales, so I drive all day. Before my surgeries, driving or airline flights would cause my legs to go numb. By the end of the day, my shoulders and arms would hurt from the neck pain and nerve damage that was radiating down my arms. I was still pushing through workouts and doing everything to keep myself in shape, but I was in a lot of pain. I was taking anti-inflammatory medications and I got to the point where I could not do that forever. I had done chiropractic care and tried to minimize pain through other avenues, but it came down to the fact that there was nothing to reverse the conditions,” Heather remembers.
“When I spoke with my Patient Navigator on the phone, I told her I knew I needed neck and back surgery, and that I was hoping to come up with a plan to figure out what the most important surgery would be,” Heather shares. “Once I described what I was dealing with and what I had been told by other doctors, I said, ‘Tell me who you would send your family to,’ and she gave me a list of doctors to research. That is when I came to the conclusion that Dr. Guyer would be the best surgeon for me.”
Heather asked her parents to go with her to her consultation, as she was overwhelmed with all of the information she had received from other doctors and she wanted another medical opinion. Heather recalls, “Dr. Guyer was humble and had a calm demeanor and after looking at my case, he knew it was a slam dunk. Dr. Guyer took the information to his team and made sure they agreed with his plans. I knew I could trust him when he suggested gathering input from his team of doctors, even though he is an accomplished doctor, has done lots of these procedures and is very well-known.”
At every appointment, Heather saw the same team and attributes that continuity to the high level of care she received. “They always knew who I was and what was going on with my case. I did not have to explain myself 1,000 times. It was great,” Heather says.
With Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center, the Patient Navigator saves patients time and hassle, as navigators are in tune with everything from scheduling and insurance to physician sub-specialties and schedules so they can help connect the patient to the right doctor for their needs. The Patient Navigator is there for patients throughout their entire episode of care. They can help patients understand their treatment program, can walk them through the steps of their treatment plan and help them get answers to any questions they have along the way. The Patient Navigator can facilitate the coordination of care between multiple offices and help prevent things from falling through the cracks by using streamlined communication between providers and patients. In addition, the Patient Navigator is available to help the patient work through questions that may arise. It is also a great resource for physicians who need to make referrals to specialists, as it provides one place to reach multiple spine and orthopedic medical providers.
Heather had both back and neck surgeries at Texas Health Center for Diagnostics and Surgery with Dr. Guyer and wishes she would have done the surgeries sooner. In between her two spine surgeries, Heather also had hip surgery with Dr. Richard Reitman, another physician participating in the Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center. Heather has fully recovered from her surgeries and is now back to her healthy, active, everyday life. “I am able to drive all day without my legs going numb. I am back to doing everything I want to do in the gym, which is amazing. I would not have thought a year-and-a-half after getting a disc replacement in my lower back and a fusion in my neck that I would be able to jump, run and participate in all the workout classes. So, nothing is holding me back!” Heather says. “I have already referred two people to the Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center and I know they are in the best hands!”