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Holden Woman Recovering After Knee Surgery Delayed Twice Due To Pandemic, Staffing Shortages

HOLDEN (CBS) - Karen Raphaelson walks very carefully around her active dogs these days, just off knee replacement surgery that she had to wait a year for. "It's been pretty bad, I'd fall a lot, my knee would give out," said Raphaelson.

The pandemic hit and the Holden woman decided to avoid a hospital setting for a while. Then when surgery was finally scheduled a few weeks ago she got the call that she had to wait again. "Oh, I wasn't happy, I didn't answer the phone, got the message that it had to be postponed and she did tell me because of the staffing problem," Raphaelson said.

It had been a long year of pain, even fracturing a wrist from a fall, never thinking she'd face a postponement at UMass Memorial in Worcester. "I didn't think it was going to be me because of how bad the situation was with my leg, but it was a possibility and if it happened, it happened," she said.

Her situation is being repeated in hospitals across the state with a standing order from the Baker administration to reduce non-emergency surgeries due to staffing and bed shortages.

"The best thing for the community is to delay a little longer and get them in as soon as we can. We have to keep the trauma center open and flowing," said UMass Memorial Health Care CEO Dr. Eric Dickson, who calls it a difficult decision.

Karen Raphaelson says she saw the chaos and the stress firsthand. "When they were wheeling me down to pre-op everybody was in the hallways or in the operating room or coming in and out of doors," she said.

She has a new appreciation, she says, for the care the hospitals are trying to give. "We have to take care of each other and make sure all of us are okay," she said. "There's not much you can do about that."

Now with small steps each day she is finally on the road to recovery.

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