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For 10 years, Angela Vaughn suffered from severe arthritis pain in her knees. As a Track & Field coach and science teacher, she needed to be on her feet and active – but her knees wouldn’t let her. She tried cortisone injections and viscosupplementation "gel" injections, but it wasn’t enough to give her relief. Angela had been reduced to living life from a seated position because she could no longer bear the pain.

“I could not stand for long,” Angela recalls. “I was living from my chair – cooking, teaching and even coaching from a chair.”

She needed a joint replacement in both knees and in the spring of 2023, Angela began exploring her options. “My sister-in-law works for Summit Health,” she explained. “She suggested I schedule an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon.”

outpatient joint patient

Her search led her to James Kanellakos, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Summit Health with specialized fellowship training in hip and knee joint replacement surgery. “He immediately approved me for surgery on my left knee and made me feel comfortable with the process,” she said.

Angela was also relieved she could go home on the same day as her surgery. Summit Health offers several outpatient surgical services that allow patients to avoid an overnight hospital stay after they finish their procedure.

“Being able to go home the same day was a major selling point for me,” Angela said. “Dr. Kanellakos was very detailed and made me feel totally at ease with what would happen before and after the surgery.”

In September 2023, Angela arrived at the Summit Health Florham Park outpatient surgery center. She met with her anesthesiology team at 7 a.m., and Angela was on her way home by 2 p.m. the same day.

“I didn’t feel like a patient,” Angela said. “I felt like I was going to see my doctor for a regular visit and not to have major surgery. I liked that.”

“Summit Health's outpatient total joint service allowed Angela to greatly improve her quality of life and address a problem that had kept her from living her best life without the typical anxiety that comes with having major surgery or an overnight hospital stay,” says Dr. Kanellakos. “This also allowed her recovery time to be faster as well.”

Summit Health also offers aftercare and outpatient physical or hand therapy services. Angela says she thanks Dr. Kanellakos, her nurse navigator, Heather Skomba, RN, BSN, for helping set her up with the services and anesthesiologist Jason Schaechter, MD, for checking on her daily.

“Heather was with me every step of the way,” Angela said. “She called me immediately after I got home, and my home care aid arrived the next day to begin my physical therapy.”

Angela received in-home physical therapy three days a week and followed an at-home independent exercise plan. She was so pleased with the results that she has scheduled another outpatient replacement for her right knee.

“I have to remind myself that I don’t need my chair anymore,” Angela said. “After years of having to sit down, it feels great to be back to normal. Now, my life is back on the track!”