Back Surgery Patient Relieved That MySpineHealth Provided a 'Safety Net'

As a nurse practitioner and director of perioperative services at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), Julie Hamm has an active job, performing daily rounds of scores of hospital beds a day. But her job became even more challenging when she developed back pain, which progressed into spinal stenosis.

Hamm tried physical therapy, a pain clinic and pain killers for almost a year, but the pain didn’t go away. “My back was so tight, and my toes went numb,” she said. “Even though I didn’t want to have surgery, I needed to.”

She heard about Vanderbilt’s MySpineHealth Bundle, which coordinates all the services needed for spine surgery while ensuring appropriate care and a faster return to life and work. The experience is streamlined with the help of a personal patient navigator.

Hamm went to the website to check her eligibility and start the enrollment process, and her navigator quickly got back to her. “I liked that I had my own person to talk to,” Hamm said. “She called several times and made sure I had everything I needed ahead of time.”

That wasn’t the only thing Julie liked about the bundle—she didn’t have to pay any out-of-pocket costs. “That was a very attractive benefit,” she said.

In September 2022, Hamm had an L5 S1 hemilaminectomy discectomy, involving the removal of a bone and disc. “It went amazing, and everyone was amazing,” she said. “I was able to walk around less than three hours after surgery, and I was home before noon. And the recovery has been great.”

Hamm says the surgery has been life-changing. Because her chronic pain is gone, she can go camping, hiking and traveling with her 10-year-old again. And it’s made a huge difference at her job, too. “It’s allowed me to make rounds, interact with staff and sit at my computer without pain. I’m back to 100%.”

When she looks back on the experience, one of the things Julie appreciated most was simply knowing what to expect. “The navigator was a great point of contact,” she said. “Back surgery can make you nervous, and I didn’t know a lot about it. But I felt like I had a safety net.”


Julie Hamm says her surgery through MySpineHealth has been life-changing. Because the chronic pain is gone, "it’s allowed me to make rounds, interact with staff and sit at my computer without pain," she said. "I’m back to 100%.”