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Patients and staff celebrate anniversary and recertification of hip and knee surgery program

On December 9, 2015, patients and family members joined surgical and support staff to celebrate the anniversary and recertification of Fatima Hospital’s hip and knee surgery replacement program. In 2012, Fatima became the first hospital in Rhode Island to receive Joint Commission certifications for its Total Hip and Total Knee Disease Specific Programs.

The speaking program at the celebration included Dr. Robert Buonanno, Chairman of the Department of Surgery, Fatima President Tom Hughes, various members of the caregiver team, and patients who spoke about improved quality-of-life following surgery at Fatima.

Jim Hoppe had both his knees replaced at Fatima and offered his thanks to the surgical, anesthesia, and physical therapy teams for their expertise. He also recognized the nursing and support staff on Care One, Fatima’s dedicated unit for surgical patients. For Hoppe, the decision to have surgery has led to an incredibly improved quality-of-life. “I resisted having surgery for several years until the pain became too much,” he said. “I woke up from surgery and the pain in my knees was gone.”

Hoppe said he surprised Dr. Buonanno when he showed up for a follow-up appointment a few weeks after surgery walking without a cane or any other assistive device.

One of the more unique stories was shared by Gabrielle Laplante, a nurse who worked at Fatima for more than 50 years. Her position as a scrub nurse in the operating room allowed her to see many advancements in surgery, including Rhode Island’s first-ever total knee replacement performed by Dr. A. Louis Mariorenzi at Fatima in the 1970s.

Laplante had her right hip replaced at Fatima in November 2013 and complimented the physical therapy and rehabilitation staff from both the hospital and CharterCARE Home Health Services for helping her along to a speedy recovery. Coincidentally, Laplante had her hip surgery performed by Dr. Louis J. Mariorenzi, the son of the Dr. Mariorenzi who performed that first-in-Rhode Island knee surgery four decades earlier at Fatima.

Two members of the active Fatima staff shared their stories of positive outcomes following knee replacement surgeries. Jayne Parker, RN, spends many of her working hours in-and-around the Fatima operating rooms as Director of Perioperative and Diagnostic Imaging Services. An arthritic knee following a ski accident was limiting her ability to move like she once did. When the time came for surgery, she knew where she was going – Fatima Hospital. “I am from Boston where there are a number of excellent hospitals and could have gone anywhere,” said Parker. She lauded the team for its focus on pain control and therapy, which led to a quick recovery.

Elizabeth Sojka, a nurse’s aide in the Fatima operating room, had her knee replaced in October 2014. Sojka, who could barely walk because of her knee problems, credits orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Peter Pizarello and the other members of the team for an excellent outcome.

Gloria Saritelli’s motivation to get surgery came from her six great granddaughters. She was struggling to walk before her total knee replacement surgery in May, performed by Dr. Buonanno. Saritelli said her knee had been bothering her for years and was getting progressively worse. Dr. Buonanno had performed other surgeries on her for issues like carpal tunnel syndrome so she had a high level of confidence that her surgery would be successful.

“Today, I can play with my great granddaughters without pain,” said Saritelli. “I can walk comfortably. All of these things you take for granted, you don’t realize how important they are until you lose them.”

She has a piece of advice to those considering surgery. “If you are going to have it done, do it,” she said. “Don’t suffer and wait five years like I did.”

The Joint Commission’s Disease-Specific Care Certification Program, launched in 2002, is designed to evaluate clinical programs across the continuum of care. Certification requirements address three core areas: compliance with consensus-based national standards; effective use of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines to manage and optimize care; and an organized approach to performance measurement and improvement activities.

Gabrielle Laplante


Gloria Saritelli, Dr. Robert Buonanno, and Jim Hoppe


Elizabeth Sojka and Jayne Parker, RN