Dr. Cope's Story
Ernest Cope III, MD, would rather walk into the operating room than roll in on a gurney. But due to a skiing accident earlier this year, the experienced orthopaedic surgeon was thrust into the patient role.
Dr. Cope, known to his friends and colleagues as Trey, was attending a church youth group retreat at Ski Sawmill, a resort near Williamsport, on February 28. Gliding effortlessly down the slopes, he decided to take a jump. He landed badly and knew instantly he had torn his ACL. An acronym for anterior cruciate ligament, the ACL is one of the knee ligaments that joins the upper leg bone with the lower one. It keeps the knee stable.
“I realized the implications as soon as it happened,” he said. “I couldn’t stand on my left leg, so I skied down the slope on my right.” Upon reaching the bottom, he was unable to walk more than three steps without his knee buckling. Consequently, he hopped about the length of a football field to his car, not an easy feat in ski boots.
On the ride home that evening, he called his business partner, fellow surgeon James Bumgardner, MD, of Upper Bucks Orthopaedics. They met in the office the following morning. Dr. Bumgardner examined his colleague and drained nearly 70 cc (about a third of a cup) of blood from Dr. Cope’s knee. They discussed his options, of which Dr. Cope was already well-informed.
“I’ve often talked with patients who have torn their ACL and have opted not to have it repaired surgically. Some of them have done fine without it,” he said. As a result, he decided to wait and see how extensively his knee would heal without surgical intervention. Initially, he walked with crutches. As his knee improved somewhat, he was able to walk with a brace. “The experience gave me credibility with my patients, especially those who saw me with my crutches or brace,” he said.
Although Dr. Cope’s knee improved, it remained unstable, so he decided to have his ACL reconstructed surgically. The operation occurred April 6. “I could have gone anywhere for surgery but never considered any surgeon other than Dr. Bumgardner. Throughout my training and later in my role as orthopaedic surgeon, I’ve seen many surgeons operate, including some of the most prestigious experts in our field. I’ve also observed Dr. Bumgardner operate and have never seen any surgeon perform better technically. I had total confidence in him.”
Likewise, he had complete trust in Grand View’s operating room staff and post-surgical recovery staff. “I’ve worked with these nurses and anesthesiologists for years and have witnessed their competence first-hand.” His surgical experience proved his confidence was well placed. He received top-rate care and had very little pain.
He is currently undergoing rehabilitation through the Grand View Sports Medicine Program at the Sellersville Outpatient Center. He works out twice a week under the supervision of manager and physical therapist John Detwiler, knowing it takes about six months to fully recover.
Although he did not welcome his injury, it has increased his depth of knowledge. He explained, “Before the accident, I had knowledge through education. Now I have experiential knowledge. I understand that the timing of an accident is never good and plays havoc with your schedule. I can relate to the frustration patients feel when rehab doesn’t progress as quickly as they’d like or when they don’t get the results from working out that they did prior to an injury.”
“All and all, this experience has made me a wiser physician. I can better identify with many of my patients,” Dr. Cope noted.
Source: Annual Report 2009