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A lifelong career in hotel management is truly a lesson in endurance. Just ask Barry Sondern, who landed his first job in the hospitality industry at age 16 setting up conferences at a Kansas City hotel.
Working his way up the ranks, including apprenticeships at high-end properties around the world, the 59-year-old Sondern of Chicago now serves as general manager of a luxury hotel on the Magnificent Mile. He supervises staff in the hundreds on the finer points of customer service.
Undeniably, hotel managers are known for spending endless hours on their feet. That is how it went for Sondern for years until arthritis took hold in his right knee. The pain was so debilitating that it was difficult for him to fully enjoy the best part of his job—catering to his guests’ needs.
“While I was managing most of the pain through cortisone injections, I realized that over time I couldn’t take part in activities that I enjoyed,” Sondern recalled.
Wake-Up CallIn the back of his mind, Sondern knew joint replacement surgery was inevitable but he put off making a decision for years. He had never been hospitalized and was nervous about the procedure.
But with the pain only getting worse, Sondern finally sought a consultation with NorthShore Orthopaedic Surgeon Lalit Puri, MD, MBA. Dr. Puri serves as Division Head of Adult Reconstruction and Vice Chairman of Clinical Excellence at NorthShore’s new Orthopaedic & Spine Institute.
The Institute has transformed Skokie Hospital into a unique medical campus, bringing orthopaedic and spine care experts all under one roof—specialists and surgeons, ortho-certified nurses, anesthesiologists, therapists and support staff all focused on each patient’s unique needs.
After their initial meeting, Sondern was convinced that pain-free living was a priority and that a total knee replacement with Dr. Puri was the best option.
Keyed in on New Technology In preparation for Sondern’s surgery this past April, Dr. Puri created a personalized care plan to ensure precise placement of the prosthetic knee, using advanced precision technology in the operating room. The technique improves outcomes by customizing the implant’s fit and function.
“We understand that it’s difficult for some patients who have never had surgery to make that decision,” explained Dr. Puri, who holds an academic appointment at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. “I’m so pleased that Barry trusted us, and to see him return to his career pain-free is the best part of my job.”
At Your Service The surgery went smoothly, and as Sondern recovered, he remarked to friends that his stay was comparable to a night at a five-star hotel. “The customer service was outstanding and what you’d experience at a luxury hotel,” said Sondern, who was one of the first patients to undergo joint replacement surgery at the new Institute. “Every detail was executed flawlessly and I know how hard that is to do.”
Dr. Puri also praised the entire orthopaedic team that surrounded his grateful patient. “The level of commitment and pride that each employee here delivers is truly something special.”
Since the surgery, Sondern is achieving his goal of living pain-free. Not only has he returned to work, but he also is now working out with a personal trainer and enjoys riding his bicycle along the Lake Shore Drive path.
“For years I kept putting off surgery and putting it off,” Sondern added. “If I’d known my experience at NorthShore was going to be this great, I wouldn’t have put it off for so long!”