Body of Evidence
Three success stories showcase the orthopedic expertise at Providence
Story by Shelley Flannery | Photos by Gary Matoso
Orthopedic surgery changes lives every day. Surgeons help people regain mobility, eliminate pain and restore function to continue to lead full and productive lives.
Here are three outstanding stories out of the thousands that are told each year at Providence Health Care.
George Stumph’s Shoulder
He has worked in construction all his life.
“I was in the elevator industry,” George Stumph says. “You do a tremendous amount of pushing, pulling, drilling—things like that—that are rough on the body.”
Stumph’s profession took a physical toll, and he began to experience the pain of arthritis in his s. That and the fact that he required surgery to repair a shoulder injury meant Stumph was constantly in pain.
“You stand it as long as you can stand it, but then you get to a point where you decide enough is enough,” he says.
Stumph had his first joint replacement, his left knee, in 1990 at age 40. He later had a second left
knee replacement, two hip replacements and a shoulder replacement.
When it came to choosing a doctor for another shoulder replacement, Stumph was diligent.
“Knowing how difficult shoulder surgeries are, I wanted to make sure the doctor I chose filled a certain set of criteria,” he says. “I got recommendations and did my research.”
Stumph selected Erica Burns, M.D., at Providence Medical Group, to take his case.
“By the time George came to see me, he already had a diagnosis of arthritis and had significant stiffness in his shoulders and pain that was keeping him up at night,” Dr. Burns says. “Once you get to that point, replacement surgery is really the only option.”
Stumph says he made the right decision in going to Dr. Burns. “I don’t know how the procedure could’ve gone any better,” he says.
“With my first shoulder surgery years ago, I had a long and difficult recovery. But this one was different. I even went off the pain meds early.”
These days Stumph is back at work, now on the management side of the business but still very active visiting job sites and climbing stairs. He likes to sail with his wife, Barbara, and visit with his grandchildren, one of whom he watches one day a week.
“Overall, for someone who’s had surgeries and significant issues with his joints, I feel very fortunate to still be doing what I’m doing,” Stumph says. “Aside from a little osteoarthritis, I’m happy and healthy.”
Olivia Lollis’ Elbow
Orthopedic issues don’t only affect adults. Olivia Lollis was just 6 when she fell from a 3-foot wall while playing and suffered a compound fracture to her left elbow.
“That joint is a fairly common one to break in children ages 3 to 6 because of where the growth plates are,” says Chad Harbour, M.D., a trauma and general orthopedic surgeon at Providence Medical Group.
“But a break as severe as Olivia’s, where the bone comes through the skin, isn’t very common.”
Olivia’s mother, Chelsea, a Sacred Heart pediatric nurse, was working when she got the call. She met her daughter and her husband, Luke, in the emergency department.
“I wasn’t too concerned when I first heard she’d broken her arm, but then I saw her, and her arm was bloody and gray,” Chelsea says.
Emergency staff rushed Olivia into surgery with Dr. Harbour, who determined that the broken bone had severed an artery in the girl’s arm, which was subsequently dying from lack of oxygen. Dr. Harbour called upon Sacred Heart’s vascular team and a surgical specialist.
The seven-hour procedure was successful. Dr. Harbour set the bone with pins and Emily Williams, M.D., harvested a section of artery from Olivia’s leg and placed it in her arm.
Today, the 8-year-old is doing great and loves to swim, read, ride her bike, dance and play outside.
“She has full use of everything,” Chelsea says. “If you didn’t see the scar, you’d never know anything happened.”
Jamara Nowell’s Knees
She was a typical soccer-loving 19-year-old when unexplained knee pain sent Jamara Nowell to the doctor. She was living on a military base in Montana at the time, and the doctor there couldn’t determine why she was experiencing pain. Then other peculiar symptoms appeared.
“I woke up with achy wrists, and my knee started to swell,” Nowell says. “I noticed a rash on the inside of my left knee, and I would have a fever every night at p.m.”
Several weeks of testing finally revealed Nowell had adult Still’s disease, a rare type of inflammatory arthritis that attacks the joints.
Nowell was bedridden in steady, significant pain. After about six months, Nowell returned home to Spokane. She began seeing Providence Medical Group orthopedic surgeon Eric Bowton, M.D.
“Jamara came to me at 21 years old with a cane,” Dr. Bowton says. “The cartilage in her joints had just
melted away in a matter of a couple years. She couldn’t walk, let alone run. And yet, she was so positive.”
Because the cartilage was gone, Nowell’s only option was surgery.
“We’d replace one knee and then as soon as she recovered from it, we’d move on to the next,” Dr. Bowton says. In total, the surgeon has replaced both of Nowell’s knees, both shoulders and both hips.
After the surgeries, Nowell says the difference in her joints is “night and day.” She can walk and perform daily tasks. Soccer is still off the table, but she’s found new interests—including painting remote control cars and cooking—and new love with fiance Jeremy Patterson.
She also continues to be positive.
“My disease has been one of the biggest blessings in my life,” Nowell says. “I’m more proud of who I am today than who I would have been without my disease. I’ve really gotten to find out who I am outside of sports.”
Nowell and Dr. Bowton have become close in the last eight years. It’s a relationship Nowell is hesitant to give up.
“Jeremy and I have been talking about moving, but Dr. Bowton and my other physicians are keeping us here,” she says. “He’s just so genuinely kind. He’ll be getting a wedding invitation, for sure.”