Break Free helps woman beat the clock


Internationally recognized care

Break Free helps woman beat the clock

Twila Stevenson is an uncommon person living with a common problem – the bone-weakening disease osteoporosis.

As people age, they lose bone strength from a variety of causes. Almost 44 million U.S. women and men aged 50 and older live with osteoporosis and low bone mass. That represents 55 percent of the people aged 50 and older in the country.

At 80 years old, Twila did not know she had osteoporosis until January 22, 2018, when she fell in her home and broke her osteoporosis-weakened right hip.

“That is typical,” said Rena Stewart, MD, orthopedic traumatologist, Quincy Medical Group, and Medical Director of Blessing Hospital’s Break Free program for osteoporotic-related factures. “Osteoporosis has no symptoms. So, unless they have had a bone density test, patients don’t know they have osteoporosis until a bone fracture occurs.”

The clock starts

“Somehow I fell. I am not sure how it happened, it happened so fast,” Twila recalled. “I fell directly on that right hip. It made such a thud I was just positive it was broken.”

At that moment the clock began ticking for Twila. According to national statistics, approximately 20 percent of those who experience a hip fracture will die in the year following the fracture. To beat the clock and the odds, patients need surgery quickly to get back on their feet as soon as possible and resume their activities of daily living. Those are among the goals of Blessing Hospital’s Break Free program. It employs processes and protocols based on leading literature and best practices to improve outcomes for patients suffering from bone fractures and breaks related to osteoporosis – also known as a geriatric or fragility fractures.

Break Free holds the highest level of certification for Geriatric Fracture Care Programs from The International Geriatric Fracture Society (IGFS) CORE Certification Program. The CORE Certification Program recognizes programs worldwide that exceed outcome benchmarks in the management of geriatric fractures. Blessing’s Break Free is one of only 21 certified programs internationally and the only certified program in Illinois.

Getting Twila back on her feet

A resident of Arbela, Missouri, Twila was home alone when she fell.  She had to drag herself about 25 feet to reach her phone and call the ambulance that transported her to Scotland County Hospital, Memphis, Missouri. Twila was stabilized and transferred that night to Blessing Hospital for surgery the next day by Dr. Stewart.

“Research says a surgery time under 24 hours after the break improves a patient’s long term outcome,” said Dr. Stewart. “Through Break Free program processes and protocols, our patients get to surgery, on average, in under 18 hours.”

The day after surgery, Twila was out of bed and receiving help walking from Blessing physical therapists.

On January 26, four days after she broke her hip, Twila was discharged back to Scotland County Hospital for the rest of her recovery, 20 days of inpatient physical therapy and one month of outpatient physical therapy.

“We have an excellent therapy department. I wanted to do my rehab at Scotland County so I would be closer to home,” Twila stated.

Twila came from Blessing and she already knew what the path to recovery was and what she needed to do,” said Meagan Weber, PT, DPT, director of Rehabilitation, Scotland County Hospital. “She was already very well educated. It made our job a bit easier.”

“Some people won’t do therapy because it hurts. It does hurt. But you’ve got to do it if you are going to get back on your feet,” Twila stated. “You’ve got to do what they tell you and you’ve got to do it well. No pain, no gain.”

A third goal of Blessing’s Break Free program is for every patient to be seen and treated for their osteoporosis to reduce the risk of another fracture. Twila is now on medication to strengthen her bones.

Busy, busy, busy

What makes Twila uncommon?  At an age when most people have slowed down, she moves at the pace of a woman half her age. Twila has two children, four grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, is a more than 40 year member of the Scotland County Hospital Auxiliary, a member of the Scotland County Genealogical Society, the treasurer and a member of the Arbela Baptist Church, board member and treasurer of the Hickory Grove Cemetery Board and Clerk of the Arbela Village Board. She doesn’t have time for broken bones.

“I am a good volunteer,” Twila admitted. “If they ask me to do something, I don’t know how to say no, I guess.”

She credits her deep faith in God and the care of her doctors, nurses and therapist for getting her back on her feet.

“I am doing great,” she concluded. “I am doing all the things I was doing.”

For more information on orthopedic services at Blessing, visit

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