“High energy trauma injuries” refers to injuries sustained from car accidents, motorcycle accidents, snowmobile accidents, falls … any injury that involves great impact to the body. Understandably, high energy trauma often leads to extensive injuries and a constellation of health problems, and historically, in the Tip of the Mitt region, emergency surgery required a medi-vac flight or long ambulance ride downstate. Recently, however, Petoskey’s Bay Street Orthopaedics added high-energy trauma surgery to their skill set by inviting Austin McPhilamy, M.D. to their team. McPhilamy recently completed an orthopaedic trauma fellowship, training under Dr. Timothy Bray at the Reno Orthopaedic Clinic.

The McLaren medical team turned to McPhilamy during his very first week in Petoskey, following a serious motorcycle accident that involved two people. “One of them was hemodynamically unstable—meaning the patient had very low blood pressure and was losing blood. We were able to stabilize him, fixing a significant pelvic ring injury and other multiple fractures in his lower extremity,” McPhilamy says. Previously, the patient, despite his highly unstable condition, would have been transported to a distant hospital for care.

Adding high-energy trauma orthopaedic surgery to the specialties offered by Bay Street Orthopaedics was also an important step toward a longer term goal of McLaren Northern Michigan to achieve Level II trauma certification, which the American Trauma Society defines as “able to initiate definitive care for all injured patients.” Achieving Level II accreditation requires a multidisciplinary team that includes general surgeons, vascular surgeons and other  specialists to provide “cohesive trauma care,” McPhilamy says. “I’m one piece of that puzzle.”

McPhilamy’s expertise also applies to longer term care in the area of post- traumatic reconstruction. “Unfortunately some patients might develop a malunion or a nonunion that needs additional care down the road,” he says. “Malunion” refers to when a bone heals in an incorrect position—crooked, for example. “Nonunion” describes when a bone does not heal.

How unusual is it to have this level of orthopaedic surgery in a small community? “You really don’t see that very often. It’s very atypical,” McPhilamy says. “It shows the uniqueness of the area, the need to serve a large seasonal influx of people, and the commitment of Bay Street Orthopaedics and the hospital to commit the resources needed to achieve this.”

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