Roger Componovo, MD, watched Emergency Management Technician (EMT) Debbie Kulick dazzle his children about the importance of ambulance and EMS safety at a Middle Smithfield Township community event in October 2018. He couldn’t help but smile.
“She had such warmth, such enthusiasm in her presentation to my kids,” says Componovo, a Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) orthopedic surgeon with Mountain Valley Orthopedics, PC. “They really responded to her. Then she got up and started walking away with a heavy limp. It didn’t seem to fit with someone with her energy.”
From EMT to patient
Three months later, Componovo remembered the energetic Kulick when she walked into his office, having been referred to him for total joint replacement surgery for her left hip. “I had pretty severe pain for about a year and a half,” says the 63-year-old Kulick. “I’ve been a volunteer EMT with Bushkill Emergency Corps for 45 years. One day, a patient we were transporting saw me cringing with pain and asked me if I wanted to trade places. I guess I knew then it was time to do something.”
X-rays revealed a congenital problem with Kulick’s hip sockets, leading Componovo to expect her right hip would eventually need replacing as well. “Even among the general population who have typical arthritis, both hips need replacing in 50 percent of cases.”
Two new hips
Kulick’s left hip was replaced in December 2018 and her right hip in June 2019, both by Componovo at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Pocono. “I was concerned about how long I’d be laid up, but I woke up from both surgeries with no pain,” Kulick says. “Each time I was on my feet in physical therapy the same day as surgery, and I was back to normal in no time. I tell everyone these hips are better than the original issue.”
With advances made in joint replacement technology, Componovo says Kulick’s new hips could last as long as 35 years.
“I happened to see Debbie recently getting communion at Church of St. Matthew in East Stroudsburg,” Componovo says. “She was walking with complete confidence. It was a really great thing to see.”