Pharos-Tribune

May 19, 2013

Preventing injury

Hospital sees high number of orthopedic surgeries

by Caitlin Huston
Pharos-Tribune

LOGANSPORT — With long hours working in factories, Cass County workers can often acquire muscular injuries and damage to the fingers.

Dr. Carmen Perez with Logansport Memorial Hospital’s Healthy Companies program said her clinic often sees patients who have fractured fingers as a result of being trapped in machinery and carpal tunnel or elbow issues. While most of the workplace injuries can be treated without surgery, orthopedic surgery is one of the main procedures carried out at Logansport Memorial Hospital.

Perez, who has worked at the clinic for about a month and a half, said she has often run into the fractures to the finger.

“Most of them are mash injuries,” Perez said.

The majority of injuries are treated with therapy in the clinic, which includes using wrist splints and giving anti-inflammatory medicines.

However, more serious injuries — like shoulder injuries, which can be a result of heavy lifting or repetitive motion — are sent to orthopedic surgeons at the hospital, Perez said.

Because of injuries from workplaces, as well as the necessity of hip and knee replacements, hospital CEO Dave Ameen said the orthopedic surgeries are among the top programs in terms of volume at the hospital, behind general surgery and gynecology and obstetrics.

“It’s probably our third highest,” Ameen said.  

The hospital has placed an emphasis on orthopedic surgeries since 2010, Ameen said. One of the reasons was to have an orthopedic center close by for patients.

“It just makes it a lot easier on families and the patients,” Ameen said.

Because of the high volume of orthopedic surgeries, Ameen said the hospital will be hiring a third orthopedic surgeon to come in January.

As part of her job, Perez said she has visited Tyson and ESSROC Italcementi Group to help them work on prevention of workplace injuries. One of the main ways of prevention is to conduct thorough health services before the employee is hired.

“The most important is when they approach for pre-employment physical,” Perez said.

Perez also stressed that employers should check regularly on any employee that had an injury and is returning to work.

That employee will have to return to their job slowly until they feel up to working normal capacity, she said.

During regular work, Perez said employees can keep safe by wearing protected gloves, to prevent against the finger fractures, and by wearing goggles to protect their eyes.

Joy Winch, a human resources representative at ESSROC, said wearing protective gear at their plant has helped reduce the number of injuries. The plant hasn’t had an injury in 603 days, she said.

“We don’t have many injuries,” Winch said.

Winch said they also already use the preventive measures that Perez recommended.

“We need to make sure that they’re OK to come back to the environment,” Winch said.

Caitlin Huston is a staff reporter of the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5148 or caitlin.huston@pharostribune.com.

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Pharos-Tribune eEdition, or our print edition