Barb and Goerge Tolzmann Story

Husband and wife share good experiences with knee surgery at Door County Memorial Hospital

Married couples often share common interests and feelings.

And one of the things Barbara and George Tolzmann have in common is knee surgery. And they also share a high regard for Dr. Steven Davis, an orthopedic surgeon at Door County Memorial Hospital/Ministry Health Care – Total Mobility Care.

Dr. Davis was their provider of choice for knee replacement procedures—Barbara, 75, had it done on both knees—the left in November 2008 and a year later in November 2009 on her right knee. And George, 76, needed surgery on his left knee in August 2009.

Today, the Tolzmanns are back to pursuing their interests, which require them to spend hours on their feet. Barbara, a member of the DCMH/MHC Auxiliary, works in the hospital’s gift shop—retail work she has provided for 15 years including service as shop manager. And George enjoys doing woodworking in the lower level of the couple’s Sturgeon Bay home.

They extend accolades to the surgeon as well as the hospital nursing and rehab teams for the care they received.

“The doctor was wonderful. Dr. Davis is the best. He explained the surgery very, very well using models that they have. And he came right in before the surgery and asked if I had more questions. And after surgery, he was there all the time,” said Barbara, who spent four nights in the hospital after the procedure.

“He’s an excellent doctor and also a very nice man. I was really impressed with him. And the staff at the hospital was wonderful. They are so nice, and the nurses are there the minute you call for them. The service and care is really good.”

George also complimented the care, adding that--if he had to--he would have the procedure done on his right knee. And he’d choose Davis as his surgeon again.

“It was great. If I had to have another knee operation, I wouldn’t hesitate. I would have it by Dr. Davis. I knew it didn’t hurt,” George said.

But he was suffering pain in his knee before the surgery. That’s for sure. In fact, George described it as a “stinging and sharp excruciating pain.”

Barbara, too, said that cartilage had worn away around the knee, leaving her with discomfort and pain—before the surgery, that is.

“Oh yeah, there was a lot of pain. There was bone on bone, and you could hear it cracking. Just standing was hard to do and walking was worse,” she said.

“The knee was giving out on me and always sore. And after going to see Dr. Davis, and with X-rays, we decided it was time to have something done,” said Barbara, who was referred to Davis by her primary care physician, Dr. Richard Hogan.

The most common cause of knee pain and disability is arthritis, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). During the knee surgery, the doctor removes damaged cartilage and bone and positions new metal and plastic joint surfaces to restore the alignment and function of the knee, AAOS said.

Both Barbara and George said arthritis apparently caused their knee problems.

Each found it easy to get back on their feet after the surgery and begin a rehabilitation program.

“I did not have any pain after the surgery or with the therapy,” Barbara said.

Both received six weeks of physical therapy at DCMH/MHC’s Rehab Services Department’s Cherry Point mall location. Bill Herbst, the Physical Therapist who worked with the Tolzmanns, said that the therapist helps the recovering knee surgery patient to decrease pain and swelling. Other goals are; increasing range of motion, ensuring the patient can walk correctly, and helping them develop strength.

Herbst went on to say, “in preliminary sessions, the therapist and patient may work together to move the knee. Later, the patient may progress to parallel bars and try standing and walking activities. Stationary biking and working out on a NuStep exercise machine help individuals to develop strength as well as range of motion”.

Barbara said the physical therapists that helped her after both her surgeries were professional and sensitive. “They are wonderful. Everyone seems to know exactly what they are doing and what you should be doing. And where you should be at a certain point,” she said. “They are extremely knowledgeable and very, very thorough and very kind. If you can’t do it, they don’t push you or make you feel bad.”

George recalled walking between the parallel bars and doing biking while in Rehab Services. But the real test of his knee surgery will be the upcoming golf season. “It will be a good test of how my knee turned out,” he said.

In addition to an experienced doctor and quality service and healthcare workers, a positive attitude is also important to someone considering knee surgery, according to Barbara. “I went in (to the surgery and rehab) with a positive attitude that everything was going to be fine – and it was.”

To make an appointment with Dr. Steven Davis, call North Shore Medical Clinic, 920/746-0510 or 920/522-8919. More information on DCMH/MHC’s Surgery Center and Rehab Services is online at or call 920/743-5566.

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