BERMUDA RUN, N.C.—Bermuda Run Mayor Kenneth A. Rethmeier,
Dr.P.H., is also an internationally known consultant in health care administration.
Armed with some 45 years in public health management, Rethmeier got the chance
to look at health care from the bedside instead of the boardroom.
A golfer who also enjoys cycling and hiking here and
abroad, Rethmeier began experiencing hip pain in 2015. The discomfort in his left
hip became so debilitating that he could not walk the relatively short distance
from his home to his post office kiosk without stopping several times in severe
Rethmeier sought treatment at the facility he ranks as
one of the best he’s seen: “The medical staff, nursing staff and all of the
ancillary staff at Wake Forest Baptist Health – Davie Medical Center—I cannot
say enough good things about how attentive, caring, focused, and on top of
things they are.”
Doctors and nurses at Davie Medical Center have many
grateful fans among their patients, but Rethmeier had a wider perspective than
most. He had been commanding officer of the Naval School of Health Sciences in
Bethesda, Maryland. He was also the lead consultant in developing a physicians’
executive leadership program for the Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence.
John Shields, M.D., orthopaedic surgeon at Davie Medical
Center, recommended a hip replacement via a minimally invasive posterior approach.
Rethmeier identifies Shields, Maxwell K. Langfitt, M.D., David C. Pollock, M.D.,
and all those who took care of him as “community heroes” who exemplify all the
best practices he has studied and taught worldwide.
Davie is “well above” other
“When I was consulting I went to more than 50 different hospitals
looking at operations,” Rethmeier said. “Davie Medical Center is well above any
hospital I have seen. As a patient, I had what some in industry call a ‘cold
eye’ review.” (The term describes a process where someone not involved with a
particular system looks at it with fresh eyes to identify areas of
So, by the time Rethmeier was in a hospital bed looking
up at medical treatment with the critical eye of a joint replacement patient, he
had spent thirty years on health care ventures and made a mark on how medicine
is delivered. His work with the Hospital Association of Pennsylvania (HAP), had
been recognized for its contribution to the national dialogue about how to
manage networks of health care services.
A milestone day in May
Rethmeier’s hip replacement surgery was on May 16, 2017. He
said once the operation was completed he could tell from the high level of care
that the first hours after surgery were critical.
“The nursing staff, physical therapists and anesthesiologists
have a very tough job immediate post op,” he said. “Their job is to get you
comfortable, ambulating well and out of the hospital. They have to move with
the speed and acumen of military A6 pilots doing touch and go’s.” He said the
Davie team’s efficiency reminded him of the Navy and Marine Corps pilot maneuvers
he saw before heading for his tour of duty in Vietnam.
Rethmeier was grateful for the expertise of his
anesthesiologist, Ashley Talbott, M.D., who was responsible for his pain
management. “As anesthesiologists, our goals are to optimize patient safety and
pain control throughout the entire journey,” Talbott said. “We offer world-class
regional anesthetic techniques that not only keep patients safe and comfortable
during their procedures, but also continue to provide pain relief during the
initial days of recovery, allowing patients early mobility and enhancing their
During rehab and recovery, all the benchmarks Shields
told him to anticipate occurred on schedule. “I was without a walker or cane
two weeks after surgery, and off pain medications in three weeks,” said
Rethmeier acknowledges that at age 72, the recovery pace
is slower. He said, “At 32, I had both knees operated on in March and was back
running in June. But still, it’s amazing that after this hip replacement, at about
8 weeks I was back to normal.
“Now I feel strong,” said Rethmeier. “I stay in touch
with John Shields on email through myWakeHealth.com, and have had no problems
or issues with the hip feeling odd or abnormal.”
Shields said Rethmeier’s successful experience with hip replacement is
not unusual, and that hip replacement has
one of the highest success rates among surgeries. “If you’re sitting on your
couch wishing you could take a walk or go play golf or tennis,” he said, “but
you cannot because of hip pain, you are probably ready for a hip replacement.
“If you decide to have the
procedure, read all the data when you’re choosing a surgeon and a facility,”
said Shields. “Choose a facility, like Davie Medical Center, that does high
volume and be sure to select a fellowship-trained total joint surgeon who does
a significant number of hips per year.”
Rethmeier said it is obvious where he would send a friend
or family member. His next piece of advice would be to follow the
recommendations of physicians and physical therapists religiously.
From “Inspired leadership” to inspiring
Rethmeier’s history with Bermuda Run began in 1998 when
he was hired as a senior vice president for Wachovia Corporation. The move to
North Carolina was welcome; his wife, the former Judy Oestrich, had grown up
near Fayetteville before becoming a registered nurse.
And if Rethmeier develops additional seminars or
publications on inspired health care management, the medical staff at Davie
Medical Center might well expect to see their brand of compassionate care and
rigorous skill held up as a model of exemplary practice.
As Shields said, “From our
hand-picked surgical team and all the OR staff to the nurses on the floor, the
greeters, the transport folks and the dining staff, we want the patient’s
experience to be positive. Our patients’ comments and our Press-Ganey [hospital
evaluation] scores say we’re hitting these marks.”
Rethmeier is reminded every day of the Davie Medical
Center team’s attitude and expertise: “Three weeks ago I was in Alaska, walking
everywhere. I kept up with my grandkids who are 16, 14, and 11 years old!”