When a kid falls at school and fractures his wrist or a dairy worker nearly slices off a finger -- which happens often in Merced County -- they no longer have to leave the area to receive care.
Dr. Abner Ward, an orthopedic surgeon, recently opened a private practice on G Street in Merced, Yosemite Bone & Joint, Inc. He is the first specialist of this kind to come to Merced County, according to Robert McLaughlin, director of communication for Mercy Medical Center.
“There’s a need,” Ward told the Sun-Star in a recent interview. “That’s why I came here.”
Mercy Medical's emergency room sees an average of 25 to 30 hand injuries a month, McLaughlin said, and the portion of those cases that need surgery or have complex problems would have to be referred out to Modesto or Fresno usually.
Ward specializes in injuries ranging from the fingertip to the shoulder, he said. Since the opening of the new specialty practice three and half months ago, Ward said, he’s done more than 100 surgeries, a lot of them from agriculture and dairy-related work injuries.
Lack of transportation is a barrier to healthcare for many people in Merced County. Some people are able to make the hour drive out when they have a hand injury, Ward said, but not everyone is able to make the trip for follow-up care, which can make the situation worse.
Many patients come in with wound infections that haven’t been checked out, Ward said, or with injuries and fractures that were weeks old and should have been treated immediately.
A lot of children with fractures end up in his office, Ward said, who would otherwise have to go to Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera or in San Francisco for care because there isn’t a pediatric ward at the hospital.
“A wrist fracture missed for two to three days is unusual,” he said. “There’s definitely a need here.”
For more information on Yosemite Bone & Joint call 209-723-2799.