A Batesville man is praising UAMS’ Telehealth program for saving his hand.
Tommy Watts and his doctor, Theresa Wyrick, have a close relationship. It all started with a home improvement project gone wrong.
“I was going to go out there and cut this one board to do my mailbox. I was ripping it, the board cut and grabbed my wedding band,” Watts said. “The finger was twisted laying right there and so I just went ‘oh’ I went in the house and wrapped a towel around it .”
Watts said his wife immediately rushed to the nearest hospital. It was there that medical personnel recognized he needed a hand specialist. That’s when the hospital reached out to Dr.Theresa Wyrick using the Telehealth system.
“I think God sent me to her that day,” Watts said.”It gave me hope. She was like an angel because like I said I was laying there wondering what was going to happen. She felt confident and sounded confident.”
Theresa Wyrick is an Associate Professor of Hand Surgery and Vice Chairman of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at UAMS. Wyrick said Watts had extensive injuries.
“Mr.Watt’s had a pretty significant injury on the back side of his hand. This all sort of injured tendons here. The tendon that straightens his finger, he lost a portion of the bone here. Injury to the tendon and bone here and injury to the tendon and bone here,” Wyrick said. “We were able to repair tendons, fractures, broken bones, nail bud injuries and those sorts of things to allow everything to still be there. I think it looks really good.”
According to UAMS, there are only seven hand specialists in the state of Arkansas that are on call 24-hours a day. Wyrick has an iPad that she keeps with her at all times in case someone needs help.
“They call the trauma communication center and say they have a hand injury and then we’re paged. We immediately have our iPad and we can open it up,” Wyrick said. “I take a Telemedicine call about six or seven times a month kind of depending on the month,” Wyrick said. “We all rotate through this so we all rotate through this so there’s always a hand surgeon available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year that emergency room providers and physicians across the state have access to.”Doctors can look at x-ray images and upload documents during the conference with the patient. According to Wryrick it takes her an average of 30 minutes to figure out what the patient needs using the system” before this system was in place it would take two or three hours to get in touch with the right person to figure out where they need to go. Obviously, with these hand injuries time is of the essence,” Wyrick said.
Wyrick said injuries like Watts’ are more common than people think.
“Table saws are something that we see that can do as you might imagine, a lot of damage to the hand,” Wyrick said. “It’s a very common injury, particularly this time of year when people, the weather starts to get nicer and they start to do those home improvement projects, saw injuries are one of the more common things we see.”
Watts told Channel 7 News the experience has been life-changing. “It changed forever. I mean it will never be the same. Thanks to Dr.Wryick I got my hand,” Watts said.
Wyrick said the Telemedicine technology is revolutionizing health care for Arkansans across the state.”People in parts of the state that don’t have access to this type of care, and didn’t have access before. Now they can get here and now we can take care of them and we can give the best outcome the most efficiently that we can,” Wyrick said.