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Your Healthy Family: Free hand surgery application deadline is this Friday

Posted at 5:16 PM, Jan 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-20 10:03:12-05

Disclaimer: This is sponsored content. All opinions and views are of UCHealth and does not reflect the same of KOAA.

To learn more about the Touching Hands Project here in southern Colorado, you can visit (the Touching Hands Project site) and to learn more about the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, who we are, what they do, and the mission behind the Touching Hands Project visit their website.

The pandemic affected so many areas of our daily lives. It also impacted a group of local hand surgeons and their ability to help southern Coloradoans who fall into what's often referred to as the insurance gap, to get critical free surgeries that can vastly improve someone's daily quality of life.

Dr. Jeffry Watson is a Colorado Springs orthopedic surgeon, and the chairman of the Domestic Outreach Committee for the American Society for Surgery of the Hand.

Dr. Watson says, “Medicine was shut down with COVID, meaning we were consumed with COVID. We were restricted by COVID and it stressed our medical system out. We weren't allowed to take care of our regular patients at times.”

Besides having to cancel regularly scheduled surgeries at times, it was a bigger stretch to organize and hold a day that brings together an army of medical volunteers to provide a day of free surgeries for those who don't have or qualify for insurance who are suffering with things like carpal tunnel syndrome and trigger finger.

Folks like Rick Kennedy and Dave Copelan, who I spoke to in 2020 when they were getting ready to have surgery, for free.

Rick explained to me at the time, “Carpal tunnel is not fun, it's sharp pains all the time, and numbness and tingling all the time.”

Dave said, “I'm here for trigger finger. Both my (middle) fingers lock closed when I close them and then try to open them back up. I'm a fishing captain, and I’m pulling fishing lines, pulling anchor lines, and dealing with fish on a line. It’s all basically tore them up to the point that I need surgery.”

Free surgeries like Rick's and Dave’s weren't able to happen in 2021 and 2022 for those who fall into the so-called insurance gap.

Dave explained to me that his situation was that, “Health insurance is very expensive and oftentimes unaffordable for people like me who are self-employed on the yearly salary we make.”

While this day of free surgeries was on hold because of COVID, Dr. Watson tells me he kept getting questions from so many who volunteered in the past and helped make this day happen.

“Through this time I kept getting asked, ‘When are we going to do another hand day?’ The truth is we weren't even allowed to do a free hand day. The people who had participated before wanted to do it again, and that means something.”

It also means that in February, the free hand surgery day is back and happening again for those in our community who qualify, as well as the many people who work to make it happen. They are also looking forward to it. People like orthopedic surgeon Dr. Karl Larson. “It's been great to be able to start this again. It got shut down during COVID and so now we have an opportunity again to reach out and help the community and try to find people in need of hand surgery. People who fall into the space where they're not supported by government payer, and yet for any number of reasons don't have health insurance.”

Here's what you need to know: the surgery candidate application forms are due this coming Friday, January 27th. To qualify you must have no active insurance of any kind or qualify for any government or state assistance programs. If that's you and you're dealing with pain and discomfort in your fingers, hands, wrists forearms, or elbows.

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