Rewriting Healthcare by Catherine Widgery, BMC Patient

After a hip replacement at age 59, rower Catherine Widgery continued to win titles, making her the fastest woman rower over age 65 in the world. But at age 69, Catherine started having pain in her other hip and knew she needed a second hip replacement so she could get back on the water.

Catherine had previously been treated by Ayesha Abdeen, MD, so she knew she would find excellent care at the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Boston Medical Center, where Dr. Abdeen is now chief of hip and knee replacement surgery

Catherine Widgery

"Having this surgery has given me my life back,” says Catherine. “It’s allowed me to go back to an incredibly active life.” Read on to learn how BMC is rewriting healthcare by developing personalized treatment plans based on patients’ needs. 

Why did you decide to seek care at BMC?
I had met Dr. Abdeen 11 years ago, when she was working at another Boston hospital. She was, according to everyone, the best surgeon in this area for hip replacements. And my experience with my first hip replacement was very impressive. So when it came time to have my other hip done, I asked my doctor, "Who is the best hip surgeon in Boston now?” And she said, "It’s still Dr. Abdeen, and she is 10 years more experienced than she was then. Now she’s chief of hip and knee replacement surgery at Boston Medical Center."

I immediately got an appointment with Dr. Abdeen. She was happy to see me, and I was surprised she remembered me after all those years. At the time, I didn’t know anything about BMC, but the fact that Dr. Abdeen had chosen to work there gave me complete confidence it was a great place.

What’s been unique about your experience at BMC? 
Dr. Abdeen was clearly given the opportunity to innovate when she came to BMC. She told me BMC offered her the chance to use what she’d learned in the previous decade to improve protocols from pre-op through surgery. It made my whole experience better than it had been the first time because we were following those new protocols..

I had a very positive experience. I had been doing some pre-operation meditation and visualization, and Dr. Abdeen took that seriously, which many doctors wouldn’t do. She even worked with me in the operating room before I was given my epidural. And that’s how she is — so respectful of who I am as a person. The fact that she was open to that kind of alternative approach to medicine was another reason I’m such a huge fan.

How was your recovery? 
I think Dr. Abdeen is a superb surgeon. She made just a tiny incision, and my recovery was very quick. Even though the first hip replacement was great, this was a much better experience. I had less swelling, less bleeding, and everything was much better this time around. I think the way Dr. Abdeen used these protocols was why the outcome was so good and allowed me to have a fast recovery. 

After the surgery I was able to pick up where I left off and I’m winning races. It's great. I was the fastest woman in the world in my age group when I was 65. This is my 70th year, and I’m hoping to try for that again.

How would you describe BMC to other people? 
From the moment I first came to BMC to meet with Dr. Abdeen to when I was discharged after my surgery, the experience was very positive. It was a calm atmosphere, very warm. People kept checking up on me, asking if I was doing OK, and asking if there was anything I needed. 

In fact, one of the things that was a little unusual was that I was very hungry after I came out of surgery. I only had an epidural, not general anesthesia, and I hadn’t eaten since the night before. I was in the post-op recovery room, and I told them I wanted sandwiches, and they tracked down some sandwiches for me. It gave me the feeling that I was really being heard and that people were taking good care of me. 

Everyone was very responsive and compassionate. They were human. I felt like everyone was on the same page with me and they were working with me to make sure I came out of the surgery without a lot of side effects. 

What is BMC to you?
BMC is a place where I feel heard. They listen to me. BMC is a place where there’s innovation. BMC is the place where I got my life back. 

How do you think BMC is rewriting healthcare?
BMC is rewriting healthcare by listening and innovating. And the outcomes are better. 

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