Orthopedic Surgery

Liahna Armstrong

Liahna Armstrong

She’s semi-retired from a distinguished career in academia, passionate about animal rescue, loves sports and for 11 years has been the only woman in a fantasy football league where she readily holds her own. She’s also no slouch when it comes to poker.

But Liahna Armstrong, who earned her doctorate in English at UCLA and went on to a career that includes 22 years at Central Washington University, doesn’t play games when it comes to healthcare. She wants quality care in a caring environment.

After two decades on the board of commissioners of Kittitas Valley Healthcare, Armstrong is no stranger to the role KVH plays in her community.

When an attempt to play peacemaker between her dog and a neighbor’s cat left her with scratches, a deep cat bite and a dangerous infection, Armstrong experienced firsthand just how important that role can be.

Flash back to May 19, 2017. “My dog had the cat’s head in its mouth. The cat was terrified,” recalls Armstrong who rushed to intervene, saving the cat but not without suffering scratches and a cat bite above her left ankle in the process.

Early the next morning, she woke screaming in pain, her ankle totally swollen. Her husband Jim carried her to the car and drove her to the KVH Emergency Department where she was treated and released.

But Armstrong’s ankle remained swollen and painful. On May 24, Armstrong went back to the Emergency Department where Dr. Frank Cruz immediately had her admitted to the hospital. “I was there ten days,” she says. “They finally found an antibiotic I could tolerate and sent me home thinking I was getting better. But I wasn’t.”

Liahna Armstrong

Jim Repsher, a physician assistant at KVH Orthopedics, ordered an MRI. “After he got the results he told me, ‘You have a huge infected mass that’s going to require surgery,'” Armstrong says.

The next day, KVH Orthopedics surgeon Dr. Gary Bos removed the infected tissue. Armstrong says she was still in recovery when Bos approached her husband after the surgery. “I think I just saved her leg,” Bos reportedly said.

Those words aren’t lost on Armstrong. She praises Cruz’s fast action in admitting her to the hospital and the KVH Orthopedics providers, especially Repsher and Bos, for saving her leg.

Armstrong sported a lime green soccer guard to protect the wound area for a time and received IV antibiotics as an outpatient for several weeks. By mid-August of last year she was “pretty much back to normal” and enjoying hikes near the cabin she and her husband own at Chinook Pass.

Two decades after she first took office at KVH, she says her own experience affirms what she believes about the quality of care at KVH in general and KVH Orthopedics in particular.

“I was the sandwich generation,” she says of her decision to get involved in KVH. “I had a young child and aging parents. I became very cognizant of healthcare. I saw it from both ends.

“Doing the job of commissioner well involves a huge amount of knowledge,” she says, flashing a smile. “I’m still learning.”

But Armstrong says the time and effort have been worth it. “I’m proud of KVH’s commitment to the well-being of patients and employees,” she says. “I see it all the time.”

It’s what the community she fell in love with deserves, she says.

“Ellensburg is a wonderful place to live. Most people are very warm. I love being surrounded and embraced by good people in a good community.”

Stephanie Brown

Stephanie Brown

She’s an active retiree who loves to travel, spend time with family, go RV camping and spend a month each year at Mariners spring training in Arizona. But when Stephanie Brown’s left knee kept going out and pain threatened to disrupt her step and her lifestyle, she knew she had to do something.

Brown, a Yakima resident, turned to Dr. Gary Bos of KVH Orthopedics in Ellensburg.

Bos may not have an organized fan club like the Mariners do, but if he did the 69-year-old Brown just might be at the helm. In 2015, Bos replaced her left knee. Duly impressed, two years later she had him do the other one.

That Brown turned to Bos was hardly accidental. After all, when her husband Ron needed knee replacement surgery in 2012, their oldest daughter – then a surgical tech in Yakima – insisted he have Bos do it. “She knew Dr. Bos. She’d watched him do surgery and she knew his reputation,” Brown says.

The rest is history.

With Ron readily sharing his experience, word spread. Ron’s best friend soon followed suit and had a knee replacement. Then came the best friend’s wife, who also happens to be Stephanie Brown’s best friend. Stephanie’s first surgery followed a week or so later.

“Another friend who’d had surgery done by someone else came up to see Dr. Bos and had some repairs done,” Brown says. “I have another girl friend who had her knee done six or eight weeks ago.”

But Brown is nothing but serious when she talks about Bos and her experience at KVH. Besides his professionalism, Bos was warm, personable and a good communicator who not only listened to her concerns – but heard them. “One of the nice things was that he did a local anesthesia so I didn’t have to recover from general anesthesia,” she says. “That was one of my big fears.”

And it isn’t just Bos who makes the KVH experience memorable, she says. It’s the atmosphere of warmth and caring she says permeates the KVH environment. “I don’t know who is responsible,” she says. “My husband raved about it when he had his surgery done. You see it everywhere in the hospital. The girls at the front desk are very friendly and helpful as are all the other people you meet in pre-op, radiology, everywhere. I absolutely cannot complain about anyone. Everyone takes great care of you.”

They also go above and beyond when they see a need, she says. Case in point: When her best friend’s husband began to feel badly while waiting for his wife during a pre-op appointment in Bos’s office. “He was not feeling good, not looking good,” Brown says. “One of Dr. Bos’s receptionists saw that and said, ‘I’m taking him over to the hospital’ and put him in a wheelchair and took him over to the Emergency Department,” Brown says. “They immediately got him in. Because it was a heart problem he was transferred to a hospital in Yakima.”

On the day the man’s wife had her knee surgery, he stopped by Bos’s office to personally deliver a bouquet of flowers and an appreciative “thank you” to the staff member who helped him. “He says she saved his life,” Brown says.

“If I could come here for everything I needed to go to a hospital for I would be here in a flash,” she adds with a smile. “ It’s that good.”

Bryce Hutton

Bryce Hutton

He’s a 28-year-old single dad with a three-year-old daughter to raise and bills to pay.

But when pain in his right hip became so excruciating that even pulling on a sock was an agonizing exercise in pain tolerance, Bryce Hutton knew he had to do something.

Pain that had been off-and-on for several years had become a gnawing presence in his life. Hutton, who works as a fence builder and enjoys an active outdoor lifestyle, was desperate for help.

An image – a reminder of how much he battled pain – is etched in memory: His daughter Piper, then just two and a half, struggling to help him get his boots and socks off after a day at work.

“My work days were getting shorter because of it. I was working hurt and sore all the time,” he says. “I couldn’t bend over past a 45-degree angle. I couldn’t lay on my right side. I couldn’t play with my daughter. I was getting to the point where I couldn’t even pick her up for a hug.

“I felt like I was 65. I was miserable.”

Last fall, Hutton turned to Dr. Gary Bos of KVH Orthopedics.

X-rays revealed congenital hip dysplasia, a condition in which the hip has not formed properly, and something else. Somewhere along the line Hutton also had broken his hip.

“I didn’t realize that until I saw the X-rays,” says Hutton, who acknowledges that his body saw more than a little wear and tear in his younger years.  “It could have been anything – riding bulls, breaking horses, wrecking dirt bikes. I was kind of a wild child,” he says with an easy grin.

In November, Hutton underwent total hip replacement surgery at KVH Hospital. The results were life changing. “As soon as I woke up in recovery all that old pain that I’d lived with for years was gone,” he says. “It was amazing.”

After one night in the hospital he headed home the following afternoon. “It was all super easy,” says Hutton. “I went home with a walker and a cane. I went back one week after surgery and carried the walker into his office.”

Two weeks after surgery he began six weeks of physical therapy through KVH. “I was up and moving without a walker or a cane by my second physical therapy visit,” he says. “By the fourth week I felt like nothing had happened. Now I’m pretty much 100 percent. It’s like I never had a problem. I feel wonderful.”

Hutton says he’s been told his new hip should last 20 to 30 years though his “wild child” days are definitely over. “The new hip won’t stand up to that,” he says.

Now back to an active outdoor lifestyle that often includes Piper at his side, Hutton knows firsthand that joint replacement surgery, as common as it is, can seem daunting.

His advice? If you’re in pain and considering joint replacement find a surgeon you trust and feel comfortable with because it makes the whole experience “ten times better,” he says.

“That’s what I did. I can’t say enough good things about Dr. Bos. He was friendly, matter-of-fact with a good bedside manner. He made sure I was fully informed and totally comfortable.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. He was phenomenal.”

Bob Cory

Bob Cory

The pain started in 2008, occasional at first, then increasingly relentless, robbing him of his ability to enjoy life. Hiking became agony, climbing stairs difficult.

By last year Yakima resident Bob Cory, a retired utility manager at the Yakima Training Center who loves the outdoors, knew he had to do something about it. Fortunately, Cory is a man smart enough to take his own good advice: He made an appointment with Dr. Gary Bos of KVH Orthopedics.

Already acquainted, they’d met in 2012 when Cory’s late brother-in-law, Albert Schelert of Toppenish, then 85, was referred to Bos for a hip replacement. At the time, Bos was practicing in Yakima. Cory went with him to his appointments. “It was like being with a group of old friends but getting good medical advice,” Cory, now 69, says. “There are some doctors who care and some doctors who are just good. This doctor is good – and he cares. Everything turned out wonderful.”

Not shy about spreading the word, in the spring of 2014 when his sister, 74-year-old Ellen Davis of Zillah, needed knee surgery, Cory recommended Bos, by then practicing in Ellensburg. Davis had surgery last June at KVH Hospital.

Six months later, Cory followed suit. “My right knee had been wearing out. I’d let it go and let it go until I was in constant pain,” Cory says. “I was miserable.”

Cory calls Bos first class. So, Cory and his wife Sharon agree, is KVH Hospital.

“The hospital itself – from the front desk to the volunteers to all the staff to the people in the business office – are unbelievably prompt, efficient and fun to work with,” Cory says. “I’ve been in a number of hospitals and I have yet to see a better hospital for patient care.”

KVH also gets high marks for family care, the couple says. Sharon recalls how someone in a lab coat poked her head into the room where Sharon and her daughter were waiting to ask if they needed anything. “It wasn’t really her area but she was taking time to check in,” Sharon says. “The other thing I saw was that if Bob called someone came quickly.” And pleasantly, Cory adds.

“Service was so impeccable at every level,” Cory says. “And when I said ‘thank you’ they thanked me. They were thanking me for the opportunity to help me. It was an awesome experience.”

Three days after his surgery, Cory was home. Ten weeks later he was pain-free, walking two miles a day and among the ranks of those whose quality of life has been improved by Bos. “The lady across the street had her knee replaced (by Bos) this year,” he says, nodding at his neighbor’s home.  “The lady next door is 72. After I had my knee done she called and wanted to know who did it. This past Wednesday she and her husband went to see Dr. Bos.”

Bos reviewed the woman’s x-rays, said he wanted to try Ibuprofen therapy and that he also wanted an MRI. Some places that might have meant another appointment, Cory says. Not at KVH Orthopedics.

“She told me he picked up the phone, made a call and got an MRI set up immediately,” Cory says. “She got the MRI, had lunch and went back to get the results.” Her reaction: “She’s saying, ‘I love this guy and the level of cooperation at KVH’.”

No surprise that, Cory adds. “He tries to make things as convenient as possible,” he tells those who ask, “and Ellensburg is just up the road.”