After suffering a severe leg injury, a Claverack man comes to appreciate the outstanding level of care available at HealthAlliance Hospitals.
By David Levine
As seen in the July/August 2019 issue of Advancing Care
When his thigh bone shattered while hiking last winter, fitness buff Philip Bibla was taken by ambulance to the emergency room of HealthAlliance Hospital: Broadway Campus in Kingston, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth).
A retired New York City prosecutor, Bibla, 66, had typically sought care at Manhattan hospitals until a dramatic fall set him on a path to healing much closer to his Claverack home. “The care I received was pretty awesome,” he says.
It was cold yet sunny that day in January 2019 when Bibla embarked on a solo hiking excursion in Kaaterskill Falls. Though the path was slick with ice from the mist of the falls, Bibla’s sense of adventure won out. “I’m very athletic and fit, and I thought, What the heck?” he says.
Call on us – Orthopedic Care
Westchester Medical Center . . . . 914.789.2700
Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital . 914.789.2700
MidHudson Regional Hospital . . 845.896.4178
Good Samaritan Hospital . . . . . . 845.368.5884
St. Anthony Community Hospital 845.987.5400
HealthAlliance Hospital . . . . . . . . 845.334.3130
He stepped carefully on the way down, “but what happened next was like a movie,” he recalls. He slipped and fell hard on thick ice that he describes as “harder than cement.” Bibla then slid into a ravine about six feet below the trail. When he tried to get up, he realized his left leg “had no function.” He managed to pull himself back up to the path and crawl about a half-mile. The temperature was about 15 degrees. He had no cellphone service. It was getting dark.
He was in serious danger.
When he got close enough to the road to yell for help, two women heard him. One went to get help, and the other helped him navigate the remainder of the path. In shock and suffering from hypothermia, he was soon brought by ambulance to the HealthAlliance Hospital emergency room.
His leg had multiple breaks, or fractures, of the femur. “These fractures caused Mr. Bibla’s existing total hip replacement to be unsupported, floating and surrounded by broken bone. This included a large spiral fracture that was displaced and multiple fractures throughout the top of the femur that reminded me of a rock thrown through a windshield,” says Landon Brown, MD, the orthopedic surgeon who treated Bibla.
Dr. Brown says Bibla’s fracture was complex, and fractures of this magnitude, around a previous hip replacement, are typically only addressed by adult reconstruction hip-and-knee specialists. He inserted a tapered titanium rod inside the femur and attached a series of cables and a hooked metal plate to stabilize the bone around it. Then he put a new artificial hip joint on top of that and used extra-strong sutures to repair the muscle and tether tendons to the bone. The operation took more than three hours.
“From the get-go, he was optimistic,” Dr. Brown said. “It was an extensive surgery, and he has done remarkably well. He has been active in his own recovery; he comes prepared with questions and reports his challenges, and that helps me guide his recovery.”
Bibla is similarly impressed with Dr. Brown. “He listened to me, which a lot of doctors don’t do. He answered all my questions,” Bibla says. “I have had 14 surgeries, including a total hip replacement, and Dr. Brown is outstanding.”
Call on us – Rehabilitation Medicine
Westchester Medical Center . . . . 914.909.4168
MidHudson Regional Hospital . . 845.431.8159
Good Samaritan Hospital . . . . . . 845.987.5150
St. Anthony Community Hospital . 845.987.5150
Bon Secours Community Hospital 845.858.7112
HealthAlliance Hospital . . . . . . . . 845.338.2500
An injury as complex as Bibla’s requires extensive rehabilitation work, and Bibla is equally pleased with the inpatient rehabilitation services he received at HealthAlliance Hospital: Mary’s Avenue Campus in Kingston. There, he was cared for by Rocco Chiappini, MD, Regional Medical Director of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
“Dr. Chiappini is also an outstanding doctor and an outstanding person,” Bibla says. “He took time to get to know me. That helps when you are in a rehab unit for over two weeks.”
Bibla, who lives alone, has worked hard to “get my life back to normal as quickly as I can, and I am almost there.” By April, he was well on the road to recovery, though he can’t do all the physical activities he wants to — yet. But he hopes to hike, bike, swim and even box again soon. “I live for fitness,” he says.
Besides repairing and regaining the function of his leg, this experience has transformed Bibla’s view of community-based healthcare. “People should appreciate what they have when they have it, and this experience put things into perspective for me,” he says. “I am just grateful to be around, and I give the biggest shout-out to Dr. Brown and Dr. Chiappini for the excellent the care I received.”
Visit us at HealthAlliance Hospital, a member of Westchester Medical Center Health Network, to learn more. Advancing Care. Here.
Photos by JD Urban Photography