Dr. Stephen Davenport donates Hip Replacement Surgery to Oklahoma City woman
Trisha Grider felt like she had nothing to look forward to in life.
She was in her early 40s and yet, she could hardly walk. She had to depend on others for many of her needs. And she had lost just about everything: her job, her house and many of her friends.
Grider, born with congenital hip disease, needed hip surgery — but without money or health insurance, she had few options.
“My son would look at me … just the look in his eyes, you could see the pain of ‘How long’s my mom going to be around? How long’s she going to be able to deal with this?’ And that’s hard,” Grider, a 44-year-old Oklahoma City resident, said. “It’s hard to feel that, but it’s hard to see other people are looking at you like that, too.”
But that was Grider, before.
A lot of things changed for Grider, starting in early March. That’s when she had her first total hip replacement. And then, only about nine days ago, she had her second total hip replacement. And the two surgeries, which usually cost thousands of dollars, cost Grider nothing.
It’s thanks to a partnership of nonprofits, hospitals, physicians and community clinics, organized through the Health Alliance for the Uninsured, a nonprofit organization in Oklahoma City that helps organize care for low-income uninsured residents.
Grider received her surgery, thanks to the organization’s Care Connection program.
About the Program
Through the program, alliance employees help find physicians and hospitals willing to provide diagnostic testing, specialty consults and surgical care for low-income, uninsured residents. These residents also are patients at safety-net clinics in Oklahoma County, which serve as their medical home, a place where they receive the majority of their medical care.
In 2013, through collaborating with local physicians, clinics and hospitals, almost 2,800 patients were helped.
Grider found the Health Alliance for the Uninsured after about three years of facing barriers to care.
She was born with a congenital hip disease and a dislocated left hip, and she wore braces as a child.
Through adulthood, she had minor aches and pains, but nothing major until three years ago. One night in May 2012, Grider woke up to go to the bathroom and could hardly walk. She guided herself using the bed and walls.
Her doctor told her she had arthritis in her hips, and he gave her a shot to reduce inflammation.
Grider worked as an administrative assistant at an accountant’s office. Because of the never-ending pain and repeated illness, she missed several days at work. Grider’s boss told her that she was no longer needed.
When she lost her job, Grider also lost her insurance. Before she lost her job, she paid $100 per doctor visit. Grider could no longer afford to see her doctor or pay for the medications she needed.
The only place she could find care was through local hospital emergency rooms. She was in and out of the ER at least once every six months, and Grider had frequent hospital stays.
“At the hospital, all they can do is treat you for right then and maybe give you five to 10 days of medication or help, and you’re back to square one again,” Grider said.
At the hospital, she was referred to specialists, which she also couldn’t afford. One specialist wanted her to have an MRI before Grider came in. But without insurance, the MRI was going to be $1,700. She couldn’t pay and never saw the specialist.
At one point, Grider was admitted to Integris Baptist Medical Center. A staff member gave her a list of the free clinics in town.
She started calling clinics, but many of the clinics turned her away. They told her that because she applied for Social Security disability benefits — which she never received — they wouldn’t provide her care.
But finally, she was connected with Crossings Community Clinic, which provides primary care to low-income residents, and the Health Alliance for the Uninsured.
Making a connection
From last November to February, Grider received medication through the alliance’s prescription program. They also helped her get a temporary disability sticker for her car, and an appointment for a mammogram.
Workers at the health alliance also referred Grider to Dr. Stephen Davenport, an Oklahoma City orthopedic surgeon.
Grider thought that Davenport might change the medication she was on, give her a fitness program or recommend physical therapy. She had no idea he would offer surgery, much less two total hip replacement surgeries.
“When I walked out of his office, I was calling my mom, bawling, and I couldn’t even hardly speak to tell her,” Grider said. “I’m like, ‘He’s gonna fix me.’ It was so overwhelming.”
Davenport said it’s rewarding to donate his time and be able to provide medical services to uninsured Oklahomans in need of care.
“There are days you walk out of rooms, and you’re kind of discouraged, things aren’t going well, and then you think about Trish, and you think ‘Well, OK this is why we do these things,’” said Davenport, a physician at Orthopedic Associates.
So often, it’s hard to find uninsured residents help in the community, he said. In Oklahoma County, almost one in four residents are either uninsured or underinsured, according to the alliance.
Davenport performed the surgery at Integris. Hospitals usually bill insurance $25,000 to $50,000 for a total joint replacement, he said. It was free to Grider.
“It’s extremely helpful to have that kind of resources,” Davenport said. “We had somebody just a couple of weeks ago that desperately needs to get her kneecap fixed, and we can’t fix it because I can’t get the resources to get it done.”
Davenport said a total hip replacement has an 85 percent success rate over a 20-year period, so Grider might need more surgery later in life.
But for now, Grider isn’t thinking about that. She’s thinking about today.
Grider is thinking about trying out motivational speaking. She isn’t sure what life has in store. She’ll soon be able to switch from using a walker to crutches or a cane.
Four months ago, Grider felt isolated, having lost contact with so many friends because of how hard it was for her to get out of the house.
“I’m basically starting my entire life over,” Grider said. “And I mean, God’s brought me this far. There’s going to be opportunities — and I’ll just go from there. Yes, I want to be better. Yes, I want to be able to get a job, get on my feet, get my own place, get a life back, but the steps I’m going to take to get there, I’m not 100 percent sure. Something’s going to fall into place.”