Salisbury VA Brings Awake Hand Surgery to Charlotte VA Health Care Center


CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – Story and Photo By Todd Goodman, Salisbury VA Public Affairs Officer: A surgeon from Salisbury VA Medical Center will perform the first “local” carpal tunnel operations at the Charlotte VA Health Care Center on Monday October 4th. Veterans can now avoid operating room surgeries like anesthesia and coordinating a drive home and can instead get in and out in less than 30 minutes.

“It has been a tremendous help to our patients,” said Dr. Jeffrey Baker, Head of Orthopedic Surgery in Salisbury VA. “As soon as you give the patient the opportunity to wake up the procedure, they can quickly decide to do so. You came here to the Salisbury VA site to do this, but the opening in Charlotte will allow us to capture the patients who do not want to go to Salisbury. “

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

“Since we started, we’ve probably done more than any other VA in the country,” said Baker. “It’s really a revolutionary thing we’re doing.”

Baker has simplified things and made it a “band-aid” operation and can help a large number of veterans in 10-15 minutes per procedure.

“It’s a very quick process,” said Baker. “And that’s because we left out all the procedures in the operating room. The accommodation of surgical patients requires time and additional staff. I can perform three or four of these interventions in the time that would be required for such an operation in the operating room. “

Gone are the days of splinting and stiffening the repaired hand. Patients walk with a band-aid and quickly get things moving. They usually develop very well – a long way from a few years ago.

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

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

“We will do everything in our power to improve access to care, whether it be by streamlining one procedure or moving care to another facility as we are doing in Charlotte,” said Joseph Vaughn, director of health systems from Salisbury VA.

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