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Profile: Jean MacKinnon

Hip replacement puts an active patient back on her feet

Jean MacKinnon is back on the job at Zinnia Bistro, where she serves Dr. Jonathan Clabeaux, the orthopedic surgeon who provided her hip replacement surgery.

“I was walking with an obvious limp and in pain all the time… Eventually the pain got so bad, that I woke myself up if I rolled over in my sleep. I had to do something. … The surgery gave me my life back. Just not being in pain is amazing.

—Jean MacKinnon,
Orthopedics
Patient

Jean MacKinnon has been active and athletic all her life. She played tennis, softball and walked everywhere. Five years ago, she began having severe pain in her hip. Although Jean was working as a waitress at the time, she did not have health insurance. Nevertheless, Jean kept working.

“I was walking with an obvious limp and in pain all the time,” she explains. “It started to limit my work and the kinds of catering jobs I could accept. Eventually the pain got so bad, that I woke myself up if I rolled over in my sleep. I had to do something.”

Jean’s primary care physician referred her to Project Access Northwest and began the process for a hip joint implant.

“The staff at Project Access NW are amazing,” she says. “They treated me really well and were so patient in working through the details. Project Access Northwest kept me from ending up in a wheelchair. I can’t thank them enough.”

Jean was referred to Dr. Jonathan Clabeaux, an orthopedic surgeon at Virginia Mason Medical Center. 

“Jean had very advanced, severe arthritis of the hip. She had worn off all the cartilage in her hip joint, and she actually had bone-on-bone arthritis. The bone on the femoral head was so worn down that one leg was almost an inch shorter than the other leg from all the bone loss,” Dr. Clabeaux explains.

“When arthritis is that advanced, there is nothing short of a hip replacement that will treat it,” he adds. “The hip replacement cures the arthritis and corrects the leg length difference.”

Jean had the surgery at Virginia Mason in October 2012; four weeks after the surgery, she was back at work. 

“I felt like I was 12 years old again,” says Jean. “The surgery gave me my life back. Just not being in pain is amazing. I’m a naturally happy person, but now I’m even happier!”


Jean is living proof of what an incredibly great program Project Access Northwest is. It absolutely changes lives for people

—Dr. Jonathan Clabeaux

Dr. Clabeaux agrees. “Jean is living proof of what an incredibly great program Project Access Northwest is. It absolutely changes lives for people,” he says. 

“If Jean didn’t have this program, I don’t know what she would have done. She would have just suffered and suffered and tried to get by. She would eventually have gotten to the point where she would be unable to walk,” Dr. Clabeaux continues. “Project Access Northwest ends up saving money for the whole health care system, and it really enables Jean to get her life back.”

Today, Jean is back to work at Zinnia Bistro as a waitress and caterer, where owner Shelby Sewell describes her as “part of the family.” She is walking everywhere and planning to get back on her bicycle again — after a multi-year pause. This year though, she has a theme song going in her head, “Break My Stride,” the Matthew Wilder song from 1983. 

“Ain’t nothin’ gonna to break my stride 
Nobody’s gonna slow me down, oh-no
I got to keep on movin’.”

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