Leslie Frazier was awaiting knee surgery when she heard about the UPMC Center for Perioperative Care. The Center for Perioperative Care (CPC) helps people improve their health before surgery. After her first appointment, Leslie knew this program was the right choice for her.

After attending a UPMC Tele-Town Hall that featured Stephen Esper, MD, Leslie Frazier learned about perioperative care. “I had knee surgery coming up in April and was feeling some anxiety about it, so I decided to listen in. The information blew me away,” says the 70-year-old Verona, Pa., resident.

Dr. Esper is an anesthesiologist. He’s also the medical director of the UPMC Center for Perioperative Care (CPC). During the call, he explained how the CPC helps patients prepare for upcoming surgery that requires anesthesia.

“Our team works with patients and their doctors to identify health issues that might affect the outcome of the surgery,” says Dr. Esper. “People who are at their best potential health before surgery often have a faster recovery.”

The next day, Leslie set up an appointment. “They contacted my doctors, so when I arrived at the CPC, they knew everything about me,” says Leslie. During that first meeting, a physician’s assistant (PA) who later became Leslie’s surgery coach reviewed her medical records.

When they talked about her current health status, Leslie mentioned she had a toothache. “I didn’t know that having any kind of infection could affect the outcome of the surgery and my healing,” says Leslie.

The CPC staff consulted Leslie’s surgeon. They agreed to postpone Leslie’s surgery — and the CPC helped her schedule a dental appointment.

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Getting Your Body Ready for Surgery

“The CPC team took care of everything for me,” says Leslie, now retired. Before retiring, Leslie worked for UPMC Insurance Services Division’s Community Care Behavioral Health Organization.

“They told me what to do before surgery. The surgery coach went over my doctor’s notes and the surgeon’s notes with me,” she says.

“And we talked about what I could do to help myself. My surgery coach wrote it all down so I didn’t have to remember everything.”

“I felt even more reassured when an anesthesiologist met with me,” says Leslie. “I told him that I have always had difficulty coming out of anesthesia. I felt like he heard me and would look into other options.”

The CPC also makes recommendations on preoperative testing. “We might be able to save you tests that aren’t necessary for you specifically,” says Dr. Esper.

The access the CPC provided impressed Leslie. “I truly appreciated them arranging the testing in the same building instead of me making separate appointments and trying to keep track of it all,” she says.

“Surgery is stressful on the body,” says Dr. Esper.

“We encourage patients to look at perioperative care like training for a race. Your body goes through a lot of energy when you’re physically exerting yourself. The same thing happens during surgery: your body uses much more energy than it usually would.”

You can prepare your body for the stress of surgery. “I discovered I needed to increase the amount of protein in my diet,” Leslie says.

The CPC gave her protein drinks to help build the energy stores in her body. Leslie also walked every day and learned breathing exercises to help prevent pneumonia.

A Successful Surgery in Multiple Ways

In May, Leslie had a successful knee operation and woke up more alert and mobile than she’d been after previous surgeries. She credits the CPC with that success.

“Working with the CPC is reassuring. I felt ready because I took every precaution I could to get myself in the best condition for surgery,” Leslie says. “And they still follow up with me.”

She hopes more people will use the CPC’s services. “It made such a difference in how I felt about going into surgery, how the operation went, and how I recovered. I’m so glad I took advantage of what the CPC has to offer,” she says.

How Do You Get to the CPC?

Your medical specialist, surgical team, or primary care provider can refer you to the UPMC Center for Perioperative Care. “We are a complement to a patient’s doctors — we don’t take the place of your regular doctor,” says Dr. Esper. “It’s our job to look at a patient’s health risks before surgery and then help them reduce any issues so they can have the best outcome possible.”

Insurance plans may cover CPC services as a specialist consultation. However, anyone seeking these services should check with their insurance provider.

About UPMC

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 800 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. We are dedicated to providing Life Changing Medicine to our communities.