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Salisbury VA to bring “Awake” hand surgeries to Charlotte VA Health Care Center

Veterans now will be able to avoid operating room procedures such as anesthesia and...
Veterans now will be able to avoid operating room procedures such as anesthesia and coordinating a ride home and instead be in and out in under 30 minutes.(Salisbury VAMC)
Published: Oct. 3, 2021 at 5:23 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Story and photo By Todd Goodman, Salisbury VA Public Affairs officer: A Salisbury VA Medical Center surgeon will perform the first ever “local” carpal tunnel surgeries at the Charlotte VA Health Care Center on Monday, Oct. 4. Veterans now will be able to avoid operating room procedures such as anesthesia and coordinating a ride home and instead be in and out in under 30 minutes.

“It’s been a tremendous help for our patients,” said Dr. Jeffrey Baker, Salisbury VA section chief of Orthopedic Surgery. “Once you give the patient the option to do the procedure wide awake, they are quick to choose it. They’ve been coming up here to the Salisbury VA site to get it done but opening this up in Charlotte will allow us to capture the patients that don’t want to drive to Salisbury.”

Baker, who will operate out of Charlotte one day per month, already has nearly 10 cases scheduled for his opening day. With more than a third of surgical referrals coming from the Charlotte area, demand for these procedures should remain consistent.

“Since we began doing these, I would guess we’ve done more than any VA in the country,” said Baker. “It really is a revolutionary thing that we’re doing.”

Baker has simplified things and made it a “band aid surgery” and at 10-15 minutes per procedure, he can help a high number of Veterans.

“It’s a very quick procedure,” said Baker. “And that’s because we’ve stripped away all of the operating room procedures. It takes time and additional staff to accommodate OR patients. I can do three or four of these procedures in the time it would take to do one such surgery in the OR.”

Gone are the days of splinting and bracing of the repaired hand. Patients leave with a band aid and get things moving quicky. They tend to progress very well—a far cry from just several years ago.

“A friend had a carpal tunnel surgery done five years ago and you would have thought she’d had a total knee replacement,” said Salisbury VA Medical Center Chief of Staff Dr. Randall Gehle. “It was so uncomfortable for her that she canceled the opposite hand which was just as symptomatic because she didn’t want to go through that again.”

Thankfully, hand surgeries have come a long way. And bringing them to Charlotte is another way that Salisbury VA is improving patient access.

“We’re going to do whatever we can to improve access to care, whether that’s streamlining a procedure or bringing the care to another facility like we’re doing in Charlotte,” said Salisbury VA Health Care System Director Joseph Vaughn.

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