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Rep. Jones suffers broken hip

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By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The office of U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones confirmed on Wednesday morning that he underwent surgery on Tuesday for a broken hip.

The Farmville Republican’s Washington D.C. office confirmed the injury and the operation in a three-sentence statement about 13 hours after Tom Lamprecht, co-host of the “Tom and Sadie” radio program, discussed congressman’s injury on his show and in a statement released on Tuesday night.

Orthopaedic specialists said physical therapy and other rehabilitation work after the surgery could take between two to three months. Barring complications the congressman should recover his mobility.

“The key is just being motivated to work hard. Getting up and making sure you’re fighting,” said Dr. Josiah Duke, president of Orthopaedics East and a board certified orthopaedic surgeon who has been in practice nearly 20 years.

“I don’t think it’s that painful if (surgery) is done correctly,” Duke said. “It can be sore, can be stiff or it can be weak but I don’t think it’s severe pain. If hip surgery done correctly is can be quite comfortable. It just takes time.”

The release from Jones’ office said, “Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) sustained a broken hip at his home on Monday. He underwent successful surgery at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville on Tuesday. The congressman has started the rehabilitation process and is grateful to all involved for the care he’s received.”

Jones’ chief of staff, Joshua Bowlen, said no additional information about the congressman’s condition is available.

The type of hip surgery determines the length of the recovery period, said Dr. Alexander Durland, a board certified clinical specialist in orthopedic physical therapy and clinical assistant professor at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine.

Patients who receive hip replacements typically have a fast recovery because the person can put their full weight on the repair, Durland said. A patient who receives pins cannot immediately put their full weight on the repair and must gain strength, Durland said.

Depending on the time of day of surgery, medical staff will get patients moving the same day of surgery or early the day after, Durland said.

“Early on they focus on mobility, getting the patient up and moving around again because it’s important for vascular health,” he said.

Therapists also start working on strengthening exercises for muscles around the hip.

“Anytime you are not using that limb or there is surgery involved there is going to be weakness in the muscles around it,” Durland said. If the hip remains it will likely cause back, hip or knee problems down the road.

Hip fractures are typically age-related, Duke said. People should take vitamin D, exercise regularly and undergo bone density screenings to test for osteoporosis, a disease that weakens bones.

Resignation questions

The Herald-Sun of Durham reported last month that Jones, 75, was granted a leave of absence on Dec. 11 for the rest of 2018. At that time of the report, Jones has missed nearly 30 roll call votes.

Jones was absent when Congress convened on Jan. 3 for members to take the oath of office. Jones’ Bowlen said at the time the congressman was continuing to deal with a health issue and offered no further details.

Jones was sworn in at his Farmville home by U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield the next day.

According to Lamprecht’s statements, people close to Jones said he “ has been battling a neurological condition in recent months.”

Lamprecht also said, “Obviously any decision concerning resignation is ultimately up Congressman Jones. However, it does appear to be a question which the Jones camp will have to address.”

Carl Mischka, chairman of the Republican Party of the 3rd Congressional District, said conversations about Jones stepping down are premature. He said the late John McCain, a United States senator from Arizona, did not resign even though he missed nearly a year of votes after being diagnosed with brain cancer.

“At this point there is nothing that can be done but wish him well and pray,” Mischka said.

“I feel the congressman deserves some privacy and some good wishes and let’s see how far that takes us,” he said.

Jones announced during his 2018 re-election bid that he would retire in 2020.

Earlier this week two men announced their intentions to run for the Republican Party nomination when Jones retires.

Two-time Jones challenger Phil Law announced his candidacy at the Onslow County GOP Executive Committee meeting in Jacksonville.

A Marine Corps combat veteran and Onslow County businessman, Law said he is focused on the need to combat illegal immigration, address the growing federal debt and the need for health care reform.

Paul Wright, an executive sous chef from Kitty Hawk who was elected last November to the Dare County Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors, said he wants to focus on prison reform and combating drug and alcohol abuse.

Wright has four criminal convictions, the latest coming from his arrest for calling in a false bomb threat to the Dare County Courthouse in 2012.

Wright said once he committed his life to God he gained the strength to change and wants to use his life experience to help others.

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570.