A hip replacement in October 2014 has not slowed James Foley down at all.

“I’m ready to do an Irish jig now,” says the 79-year-old Catholic priest.

Originally from Tipperary County, Ireland, Foley, or “Father Jack,” served the parish of Holy Redeemer in Montrose, CA, for 23 years. Although he retired in 2007, he still volunteers with the parish two-to-three times per week.

“There is a lot of activity here, and I enjoy staying connected,” he says. “If they need me to give a blessing or do mass or help at different functions like preparing meals for the homeless, I show up. I keep helping in the best way I can.”

It was three years ago when his right hip and knee started giving him pain. He began to limp and eventually needed someone to assist him with walking. Last October, Father Jack finally decided to meet with parish member Stephen Owens, MD, orthopaedic surgeon at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital.

X-rays revealed that his right hip was severely arthritic and required replacement. Luckily, USC-VHH offers high-quality care while conveniently being close to Father Jack’s home.

“Our patients receive the same or better quality of care as a big medical center, but with the comfort and convenience of their own community hospital,” says Owens. “Father Jack was able to be seen, diagnosed and scheduled for surgery at his convenience, without extensive wait times, and he was able to recover in the privacy of his own room.”

It was a good thing Father Jack had his own room. Being somewhat of a local celebrity, he had frequent visitors while he was in the hospital because many of the hospital volunteers were also members of his parish.

“It was very convenient having the hospital so close to home,” says Father Jack, with a laugh. “I had so many visitors.”

Because USC-VHH is his local hospital, he had noticed an improvement in the quality of care since USC acquired Verdugo Hills Hospital in July 2013. “They’ve upgraded the place. There’s a better presence, and it’s more organized,” says Father Jack. “And the doctor. I can’t get over the doctor. How many times he came to talk to me and explained to me what was happening. I felt really prepared, and I didn’t have to worry about a thing. Dr. Owens did everything right down to the button, down to the fine point.”

Only six weeks after surgery, he returned to the church, pain-free and back to his regular volunteering schedule. The parish, including Owens, was happy to have Father Jack back and in good health.

Perhaps the most important benefit to the surgery was alleviating his fears about getting older and losing his abilities to drive a car, stand up and walk independently.

“What I was most worried about was my age. I’m going to be 80 in March, and I’m in total shock here. I’m having a hard time trying to adjust,” says Father Jack. “But after this surgery, I feel great, and I’m not worried anymore. I can walk upstairs and get around by myself. This independence is important to me.”

By: Sharon Brock