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Joe and Bonnie Collins: Orthopaedic Care Close to Home

Image of Joe and Bonnie.

Bonnie and Joe Collins met UPMC orthopaedic surgeon Terrance Foust, DO, a decade ago. The couple from Scio, New York, were seeking treatment for Bonnie.

She’d been having shooting pain in her legs for weeks.

“I didn’t say anything until it got so bad that I couldn’t walk,” Bonnie says.

She went to a local orthopaedic clinic, where a physician assistant immediately flagged Dr. Foust.

Four vertebrae in Bonnie’s back had smooshed together, with her spinal cord caught inside. “They had no idea what happened,” she says, but there was a genuine concern about paralysis. Dr. Foust told her she would need surgery.

The idea of surgery — which included placing a titanium cage in her back — scared her. But it went as planned in 2011, and she hasn’t had any problems since.

Unfortunately, her husband Joe’s problems were just beginning.

An auto-mechanic who has spent his life working on concrete floors, Joe had increasingly unmanageable pain in both his knees.

“Dr. Foust had once been my savior,” Bonnie says. “So when Joe needed relief from knee pain, there was nowhere else we considered but UPMC Orthopaedic Care in Coudersport.”

The same was true when Joe needed a knee implant replaced in 2021 because of a rare blood infection. And when he needed shoulder replacement surgery in 2022 — which UPMC orthopaedic surgeon Bradley Giannotti, MD, performed.

At about 50 minutes away, Coudersport is not the closest hospital for Bonnie and Joe, but they have continued to come to UPMC Cole because they trust the care they have received here.

Double Knee Replacement Surgery

Joe and Bonnie have been running Collins Automotive, an auto repair business, for 35 years. Their son, Ryan, has worked with Joe for the past 25 years, and Bonnie has done the books. It’s a true family endeavor for this couple, married for 51 years.

Joe loves what he does — at 70, he still works every day — but it can be hard on the body. Long hours of bending, reaching, squatting, and standing on concrete aren’t friendly to his joints.

But when Joe got a Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2013, replacing his knees took on a new urgency. He had been getting cortisone shots and wearing knee braces to get by, but that was no longer enough.

Because Parkinson’s can affect mobility, having solid and pain-free knees were important. “Dr. Foust thought I should have them replaced as soon as possible before the disease progressed,” Joe says.

Joe had his bilateral knee replacement surgery in 2014. He credits much of his success to the patient education his team did, including explaining the benefits of pre-operative exercises.

Joe did everything the physical therapist prescribed, from stretches and lunges to leg lifts.

“I think doing the exercises helped me recover more quickly,” he says.

He knows people who skipped the exercises and had more pain after surgery and longer recoveries.

A Rare Infection and Replacing a Knee Joint Implant

In the summer of 2019, Joe woke up in the middle of the night to find his left knee severely swollen. By morning, he could barely move at all. “I had no strength and I was very sick,” he says.

He had a rare infection in his blood from a streptococcus bacteria called granulicatella adiacens. “They had no idea how I got it,” he says.

To treat it, Joe received a strong antibiotic called vancomycin through an IV twice a day for an hour for eight weeks. He recovered fully, but when his left knee started hurting badly two years later, he knew he needed to visit Dr. Foust.

Dr. Foust found that the implant had loosened up inside the knee and needed another replacement. As with the first knee replacement, Bonnie helped him do physical therapy at home after consulting with the therapist.

Knowing their son could keep the business running while Joe was out gave them peace of mind. But Joe was eager to return to work — which he did full-time by eight weeks.

Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Recently, a partial rotator cuff tear had long been causing Joe pain. As arthritis attacked his left shoulder, his range of motion decreased. Working was becoming impossible.

So Joe returned to Coudersport, where Dr. Foust referred him to Dr. Giannotti. “If he recommended Dr. Giannotti, that was good enough for us,” Bonnie says.

They completely trust Dr. Giannotti, who performed Joe’s total shoulder replacement in April 2022. “I have almost 100% range of motion with the shoulder now, and no pain,” Joe says.

As before, he followed all pre-op and post-op protocols and completely recovered. “My shoulder and knee surgeries haven’t limited me,” Joe says.

He does all his lawn work, splits wood, and runs chainsaws. He rides his snowmobile, four wheeler, shows his classic Mustangs at area car shows, and plays with his five grandchildren. He continues to see Dr. Foust for issues that creep up, like a recent bout with carpal tunnel syndrome.

Why They’ll Always Call Coudersport Home

“Dr. Foust isn’t just a doctor. He’s a people person,” Bonnie says. “Every time I see him, I hug him and tell him I love him.”

Their loyalty extends beyond Dr. Foust and Dr. Giannotti to all the practitioners and staff at Coudersport. “They’re all there to make sure you feel taken care of,” Joe says. “Nobody there just acts like they’re there because it’s a job.”

Everyone at the hospital is always friendly and courteous.

“The professionalism is outstanding,” Bonnie says. “And Dr. Foust,” she says, “Well, he’s our angel.”