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Your Healthy Family: Team approach pulls off free surgery day in Springs

Posted at 2:54 PM, Oct 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-11 10:45:28-04

COLORADO SPRINGS – The Orthopaedic Spine Center of Southern Colorado (OSCSC) recently hosted a free hand surgery day for people without insurance.  It began as an idea from 3 hand surgeons with the Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group (CSOG), and grew to a volunteer army of nearly 40 medical professionals all donating a day of professional service.

Usually on Saturday’s, the OSCSC surgery center is a quiet, dark, and lifeless place.  But that wasn’t the case on Saturday October 7th, 2018. The surgery center was alive and active and full of patients.

It was the idea of Dr. Dale Cassidy, Dr. Jeffery Watson, and recently retired Dr. Richard Idler, in conjunction with the American Society of Surgery of the Hand and their Touching Hands Project.

“A lot of people have done a lot of planning for this.” says Dr. Watson.

Juliet Parker accompanied Cody Hyman for surgery.  Cody had surgery to save his hand from a trauma 4 years ago, and his pinkie finger never healed correctly.  Juliet says, “It’s a pretty amazing thing. A free hand surgery day is something they didn’t have to do which is an awesome thing to see these days.”

Cody explains, “It’s a huge thing for them to do, even if it was just the doctor.  His time is worth a ton and I have been seen by 4 people today and it’s their time also.  It’s the lights and the utilities and everything going that is going on.”

Dr. Dale Cassidy with the CSOG is Cody’s surgeon.  “Of all the days, in some ways days like this are the most fun. Everyone gives you a huge thank you, they are so thankful.”

Dr. Watson says without the help of so many other medical professionals this free day could have never happened. “These are surgeries we are doing, so everyone thinks about the surgeons but to be honest I have the easiest job.  I do the surgery and then I’m done. The amount of time I put in here is a fraction compared to the other staff. The anesthesiologists that are here, the nurses are volunteering their time.”

Nearly 40 volunteers in all helped 21 patients that day.  Allison Simpson, a registered Nurse with the Othropaedic Spine Center of Southern Colorado, was one of the volunteers.

Allison says, “It takes a lot of people to make something like this happen, the surgeons can’t just say we want to do this, they need a facility, they need nurses and staff, surgery techs, and they need support from implant companies that bring in equipment for surgeries.  It also requires our business office staff and the administration with Pinnacle, it all comes together in so many ways.”

Kelly Woolard has a badly broken and sprained thumb that has become useless.  Kelly says,
“They don’t know what this means to me.  They are basically giving me a normal life again. I owe Dr. Watson the world.”

Dr. Watson is Kelly’s surgeon, and also has donated his surgical consult appointments, and follow up appointments as well.  There will also be physical therapy in Kelly’s future. Dr. Watson says, “This is what it usually takes when you try to get people prepared for surgery, and through a surgery and then after recovering from surgery.  It takes many people and their time and a lot of professional experience to do it.”

Allison says a day of service like this provides an opportunity to help without having to travel to another country, where medical missions are also needed and provided by generous medical professionals. “What we often see is people going out of the country to help people who are obviously in need, and right next door your neighbor could be the person equally in need of something like this.”

Dr. Cassidy has done medical mission trips to Costa Rica in the past but also appreciates the chance to serve the people in need in southern Colorado.  Dr. Cassidy says without a team of volunteers it couldn’t happen. “It speaks to the quality of the staff here who are willing to volunteer and give their time.  For many of us it gets you back to the roots of why you go into medicine, to help people.”

In future stories, I will be working to follow up with Cody and Kelly to see how their surgeries turned out, and how their lives have been improved.