For Dr Patricia Fox, a former representative basketball player, having a unique knee operation performed in her adopted city of Hervey Bay was a God-send.
The criminology and education academic has always led an active life from grassroots sports to representing Victoria and training for the Australian team in basketball.
In doing so, however, she sustained extensive damage to her knees.
“After I retired, I came up here to the Fraser Coast, became a grandmother and wanted to do things with my (six-year-old) grandson Lucas,” the former QUT lecturer said.
To help restore her mobility, Patricia, 62, recently underwent knee surgery at St Stephen’s in Hervey Bay, eliminating the need for her to travel long distances for treatment.
“My operation was quite unique so to be able to have it done here was terrific,” Patricia said.
“I’d already had a total knee replacement and didn’t have a knee cap so I didn’t have anything for the ligaments to stick on to.
“I still have a long way to go with nursing it back to health but I’m not in pain and happy that I’ll be able to walk again and do things with Lucas down the line.”
Statistics released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) on 3 December 2015 reveal knee and hip replacements increased by 32 percent and 25 per cent respectively over the previous decade.
AIHW spokesperson Ann Hunt said that while musculoskeletal conditions were no more common than in 2004-05, there had been a marked increase in hospitalisation rates.
“Osteoarthritis hospitalisation increased by 15 per cent, while rheumatoid arthritis hospitalisation increased by 54 per cent, and juvenile arthritis by 131 per cent.
“The rise in hospitalisation rates for osteoarthritis is mostly related to knee and hip replacements.”
Patricia said that with the vast number of medial treatments she had undergone throughout her life, she had seen the inside of hospitals too many times to recall.
“I’m a bit unique having been at St Stephen’s longer than most patients so I’ve been able to get know the medical and support staff well. It’s a fantastic holida…umm..hospital! I really do feel I’m on holiday,” she said.
With two PhDs in criminology and education, Patricia has worked at various institutions from schools for children with special needs to prisons in Australia, England and Canada.
St Stephen’s was Australia’s first fully integrated digital hospital and is home to some of the Fraser Coast’s leading specialists in areas such as gynaecology, urology, orthopaedics, ophthalmology and general surgery.
The not-for-profit organisation is owned by the Uniting Church and is a member of UnitingCare Health, which includes The Wesley Hospital and St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital in Brisbane and The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital in Buderim.