Woman with Broken Hip Sails to UConn Health for Care

Ellen Potter of Canton broke her hip during a sail near Block Island and stopped at nothing to get to UConn Health and its UConn John Dempsey Hospital for care (Photo: Frank Barton/UConn Health).
Ellen Potter of Canton broke her hip during a sail near Block Island and stopped at nothing to get to UConn Health and its UConn John Dempsey Hospital for care (Photo: Frank Barton/UConn Health).

Ellen Potter, 73, of Canton was enjoying a beautiful outing with her family on her 38-foot sailboat near Block Island on the first Sunday in August, when it happened.

While climbing into the boat’s cabin to prepare lunch she missed the ladder’s last step falling hard to the bottom of the boat’s cabin.

“I knew right away something was wrong,” says Potter who was unable to move her right leg at all. It turns out she had broken her hip.

“I knew I only wanted to go to UConn,” says Potter who is a longtime patient of the institution.

To get her to UConn Health, Potter’s family sailed her several hours to the shore of Mystic. They then rigged a boat cushion to hoist her successfully from the boat’s cabin and carefully carried her off the boat and to the car. Through it all, Potter fought through her hip injury’s severe pain.

Potter and her family arrived at 9 p.m. to the new Emergency Department at UConn John Dempsey Hospital. While the OR schedule was fully-booked, UConn Health and its orthoapedic surgery team worked diligently to fit her in for surgery and successfully repaired her broken hip with a partial hip replacement.

She is now proud of her two stronger hips. Potter broke her left hip in 2014 after a fall and it was also repaired with a partial hip replacement at UConn Health.

“Hip, hip hooray,” happily shared Potter. “While I think sailing is done for this summer, I feel great.”

Potter is also very happy with her patient experience at UConn Health.

Roy Beebe
Ellen Potter’s surgeon was Dr. Roy D. Beebe of UConn Musculoskeletal Institute at UConn Health who specializes in orthopaedic surgery (Photo: Janine Gelineau/UConn Health).

“The new hospital tower is great, everyone at UConn Health couldn’t be nicer and I am thrilled to be cared for here – and the tower has a great view,” says Potter. “My surgeon Dr. Roy Beebe did an amazing job on this right hip, as did Dr. Kevin Shea on my other hip a few years ago.”

As a miraculous double-lung transplant recipient from 2009 due to scleroderma, a connective tissue disease, Potter takes daily anti-rejection medication daily which impacts the health of her bones and has led her to develop osteoporosis, which is a thinning of her bones. This makes her more prone to bone fractures.

She gratefully shared: “I was given a new life thanks to my lung transplant and a new beginning. Everyone should donate life.”

Beebe says, “This patient is doing fantastic. Getting her the surgical care she needed for her hip was a true team effort of both her family and our dedicated, multidisciplinary team here at UConn Health. Her care is a true example of the power of teamwork and the great work we do each and every day here at our hospital to put our patients first.”

Potter’s husband stressed: “UConn has never let me down!”