Doreen’s Orthopedic Patient Journey

An active grandmother of five shares her patient experience

It was just a normal day like any other for Doreen Woollam. She was caring for her five grandchildren in their Swansea home, when she turned too quickly to shut the safety gate at the top of their stairs and experienced a sudden, shooting pain through her knee. “I knew something was very wrong when I couldn’t stand or walk,” says Doreen.

After a visit to the Charlton Memorial Hospital Emergency Room, Doreen was diagnosed with a meniscus tear, and her primary care physician promptly referred her to an orthopedic specialist at Southcoast Health. Little did Doreen know this would be the start to her long, orthopedic health journey.

“During my successful meniscus surgery, I was also diagnosed with osteoporosis, a condition that causes my bones to become weak,” she says. Osteoporosis is most common among older women as their estrogen levels drop after menopause, and bone loss speeds up.

“My mother also suffers from osteoporosis so I knew how important it was to have a good care team to manage this condition. I was thankful to be cared for by Joan Wildenhain, NP from my meniscus surgery, through my osteoporosis treatments and there on out.”

Once recovered from her meniscus surgery, Doreen began her personalized, osteoporosis treatment plan and received frequent injections to increase her bone strength and density. Though she was progressing, Doreen couldn’t ignore the increasing osteoarthritis pain in her knees.

“As my other pain was alleviated, my arthritis got worse and worse with age,” says Doreen. “I spoke to my care team and that’s when I met Dr. Lifrak, Orthopedic Surgeon, who recommended I go for a total knee replacement.” Under the supervision of Dr. Lifrak, Doreen underwent a total knee replacement in November 2021, nearly four years after she was first diagnosed with a meniscus tear.

“Thank God for Dr. Lifrak, and my even greater care team. A total knee replacement is not an easy feat, but I felt supported and respected the entire way to recovery,” says Doreen. After weeks of at-home and in-practice physical therapy, Doreen was making phenomenal progress.

“My knee was doing so well and feeling so good that at my six-month checkup, I consulted Dr. Lifrak for a replacement on my other knee. People always ask me who my doctor is and, of course, I have to tell them,” she chuckles.

Now – a young –  65 years old, Doreen says she’s feeling “99%” and is grateful for the relationships she has at Southcoast Health. Reflecting back on her orthopedic healthcare journey, she credits the “great doctors and nurses” on her care team.

Though Doreen is anxiously awaiting her second knee replacement, she intentionally scheduled her surgery in the fall so she can enjoy the summer months camping with her five grandchildren, ages 13 to 4. She thanks Southcoast Health, and her grandkids, for “keeping her on her toes.”


Like Doreen, your days of living with a throbbing knee or hip pain are over. Southcoast Health offers orthopedic care in Fall River, Dartmouth, New Bedford, Swansea, Wareham, MA and Providence, RI through Charlton Memorial Hospital, St. Luke’s Hospital and Tobey Hospital. Visit to learn More.