A second chance at life thanks to St. Mary’s Medical Center’s robotic-assisted surgery

St. Mary’s Medical Center is a state-of-the-art facility that provides patients with access to world-class care with top-of-the-line physicians and technology that you’d expect to find in a larger metropolitan city. 

Grand Junction resident Julie Hager experienced this care firsthand. After waking up one morning in tremendous pain and barely able to use her legs, she sought emergency care. Julie was told both of her hips were completely shot, and she would need surgery. 

Part of Julie’s struggle was a battle with her weight. The doctors told her she needed to lose a certain amount before she could have hip surgery, but it was nearly impossible to do since she was barely able to walk. She had tried to lose weight for years, however, she had been using a walker for five years, could barely use her legs or climb stairs, and had to have assistance doing just about everything.  

In 2020, Julie had bariatric surgery and has since lost 70 pounds. That’s when she decided to go see Dr. Jordan McCoy, an orthopedic surgeon at St. Mary’s Medical Center. Dr. McCoy is fellowship trained in adult reconstruction and specializes in hip and knee replacement. Julie had her first total joint hip replacement within a few months. 

“My first surgery was the week of Christmas, and I couldn’t have received a better gift,” said Julie. “I went home the same day as my surgery and my recovery went extremely well.” 

Julie’s second hip replacement was in 2021. Her second oldest son was having a destination wedding in Costa Rica that spring and her main goal was to be able to attend without having to use a walker. “He really wanted me to walk him down the aisle and to do a mother/son dance, but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to,” she said. 

“We had a pretty lofty goal in mind from going to the point where she was almost wheelchair bound to being able to go to her son’s wedding and walk him down the aisle in a very short timeframe,” said Dr. McCoy. “But I told her I thought we could do it, so we went for it.”  

Julie’s son got married six weeks after her second surgery and Julie not only walked him down the aisle and did the mother/son dance but did so without the assistance of a cane or walker. 

Dr. McCoy performed Julie’s surgery with the assistance of a MAKO robot. The MAKO is one of the only robotics systems that utilizes a CT scan instead of just X-rays for hips and knees. Doctors use data from the scan to create a very detailed 3D model and image of the patient’s anatomy. 

“The scan is more detailed than anything else out there,” said Dr. McCoy. “The accuracy is unmatched and the preoperative planning ability with the MAKO is second to none. The result is fewer complications and dislocation, less post-surgical pain and quicker recovery. 

“I was completely blown away by how small my incisions were,” said Julie. “The whole thing was amazing. I haven’t had any problems since the surgeries. I had been sleeping in a recliner for years and it felt so great to be able to lay flat and sleep in my own bed at night.”   

St. Mary’s is the only hospital in Grand Junction that offers this type of robotics surgery, and so far, more than 400 surgeries have been performed with the MAKO, and almost every single one of our primary total joint patients has gone home the same day. 

“The staff at St. Mary’s is remarkable and Dr. McCoy was caring, encouraging and enthusiastic,” Julie said. “I wasn’t sure about the robotics program at first because I didn’t know much about it, but after we started working with Dr. McCoy, my mind was completely at ease. There’s nowhere else I’d want to go for a surgery of this magnitude.” 

Learn more at stmarysgj.org/lifeback