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Newport Beach

Back to Skiing and Snowboarding

“Hoag Orthopedic Institute is a first-class hospital with staff and a facility truly worthy of a five-star rating”

Rick Rengel, age 58, was having a great time speeding down a ski slope in Utah in 2013 when he hit a patch of ice and his skis flew out from under him. He sustained a tibia (shinbone) fracture, and underwent surgery to repair it at another hospital. That’s when his health began an even more dangerous tumble.

Rick contracted methicillin-resistant staph aureus (MRSA), a serious bacterial staph infection that can be treated but not cured. The infection spread and nearly cost him his leg two months later. “It hurt more than the original break or surgery,” he says, describing the pain as 9.8 on a pain scale of 1 to 10.

Back in the hospital, Rick’s surgical wound was reopened, drained and cleaned out arthroscopically. But the damage had been done. “That’s when things really started to go downhill,” he recalls. The bacteria had seeped into his joints, causing rapid cartilage and meniscus deterioration, unbeknownst to Rick.

Back out on the slopes nearly two years after his adverse medical event at a Utah hospital, Rick broke his ankle snow boarding. This time, he turned to HOI’s orthopedic specialists. Over the ensuing months, Rick, returned to HOI to have two hip replacements and, most recently, a knee replacement. Rick jokes that he’s part of the hospital’s frequent flyer joint replacement program. He expects to have a final procedure, left knee replacement, in 2017.

“Things went so smoothly with my first procedure at HOI that I didn’t have any anxiety when I went back,” says Rick. His ankle surgery required an overnight stay. For his left and right hip replacement procedures, Rick stayed at HOI for one night. Following his most recent operation, right knee replacement, he stayed for two nights. He was pleased that his girlfriend, Karen, was able to “get a decent night’s sleep” in his room in the big easy chair that pulled out into a bed.

What most impressed Rick and Karen were HOI’s infection prevention practices. “I’ve learned that having a separate unit just for orthopedic patients and a private room reduces the possibility of cross contamination,” he says. “Plus, everyone was so diligent about cleanliness. Even the dietary aide, when I handed my menu back to her, wouldn’t take it back and use it in another room because I had touched it. That was very reassuring to me. And the food was good!”

He adds. “My hips were back to normal in two months. I know knee rehab can take a little longer, but I just bought my annual ski and snowboard pass for Mammoth, which will motivate me this winter. I also can’t wait to get back on my bicycle and get back to riding 50 to 60 miles a week.”

One week after his knee replacement in September, Rick drove from Newport Beach to his architectural firm in Tustin for a staff meeting. Two weeks post-operatively, he was out walking around Balboa Island and impressing his physical therapist with his flexibility.

“Hoag Orthopedic Institute is a first-class hospital with staff and a facility truly worthy of a five-star rating,” says Rick. “Thanks to their good work, my recoveries have gone exceptionally well.”