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Nurse navigators: Key players on orthopedic surgery patient’s team

Considering having a hip or knee replacement surgery? You might be feeling overwhelmed and have a lot of questions. Our orthopedic nurse navigators at Elkhart General and Memorial hospitals can answer your questions and help ease your concerns before and after your surgery. The only thing you’ll need to focus on is healing so you can get back to doing the things you love to do.

Meet our team of navigators and learn how you can benefit from this free service for joint replacement patients offered through Beacon.

Sally Hull, FNP-BC, Family Nurse Practitioner, Beacon Health System Ortho/Spine Coordinator

What can patients expect from you as a navigator during their care journey?
Patients can expect to have an expert help guide them and their family members through their experience of having a joint replacement from the time they are scheduled for surgery until they are recovered at home. The navigators provide the patient and their family with education about the pre-op, intra-op, and post-op processes. They help decrease the anxiety patients can have leading up to and after surgery by being a consistent voice.

Do you talk with patients and their families before and after surgery? Does that help build your relationship and trust with the patient?
We reach out to patients when they are scheduled for surgery to get details about their home environment. This helps guide the navigator on which equipment the patient may need.

The relationship starts during that first phone call and continues long after surgery. Patients and their family members are comfortable calling or emailing the navigator for a quick answer. The navigators have easy access to the surgeons and their offices to help address needs quickly.

Can patients reach you whenever they might have a question or concern?
The navigators are available by phone or email Monday through Friday.


Brittney Lammott, BSN, RN, Ortho/Spine Nurse Navigator at Elkhart General Hospital

Does having a navigator help patients to return to their everyday activities sooner?
Yes, I believe so. I am here for my patients to call for any concerns or recommendations when they are unsure, need encouragement or reassurance. I especially feel I am able to help them with weaning off their narcotics sooner since they are able to call me for input and reassurance as to decreasing their medications while also increasing their activity.

Are most patients nervous before having their surgery? How do you help patients overcome their fear?
Some patients are fearful about surgery and some are fearful about being discharged to home the same day. I teach their total joint class and spend time in person or via phone explaining the processes, pre-op and discharge education and providing reassurance for them and their family. I am also able to assist with equipment and medication questions and concerns as well as discharge planning. I help by simply being available to them and having the time to answer all of their questions thoroughly while also discussing their concerns. Many patients have said that knowing they have someone available to them from booking surgery throughout their recovery helps to decrease their anxiety and fears.


Christine Thorn, Ortho/Neuro Navigator, Memorial Hospital

Do well-informed patients tend to do better following an orthopedic surgery?
Studies have shown that patients who are provided with education prior to surgery have improved outcomes. Education prior to surgery allows the patient to be able to be aware of future appointments that will need to be made and that allows them to secure transportation if needed. Pre-surgical education also allows for a safer return home for the patient. They are given realistic expectations of equipment and goals. Having this information allows the patient ample time to obtain equipment and any outside family or friend assistance needed to facilitate recovery as well as proper goals to promote good mental health.

Why do you love what you do?
I am passionate about this role. I feel that patients and their companions can feel lost at times in the many processes that are involved in surgical interventions from beginning to end. Being able to be a consistent point of contact and providing education to help them achieve a safe and confident outcome are rewarding. I very much enjoy knowing that they are on the path to achieving a lifestyle they feel they are missing.

Do you need a joint replacement?

If you answer yes to these questions, talk to your provider or visit

  • Significant pain that persists despite medication and other conservative therapies;
  • You can no longer complete daily tasks without help decreasing your quality of life;
  • You have degenerative changes on X-ray and other signs of osteoarthritis; or
  • You are no longer as mobile as you would like to be or find yourself avoiding activities to avoid pain.