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
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.”