ASHEBORO -- Franklinville Elementary School first-grader CJ Mears of Seagrove is back to first-grade fun following a partial finger amputation thanks to a swift and effective collaboration between FirstHealth Convenient Care and FirstHealth Orthopaedics in Asheboro.
“Hey, mom! Watch this!” CJ said to his mom Vita Brodnex as they loaded groceries into her car on the evening of Thursday, January 14, 2021. CJ’s attempted “double hand slam” to simultaneously close the front and back car doors resulted in the 7-year-old’s right middle finger getting smashed.
Brodnex, a Randolph County Schools social worker, thought fast and rushed CJ to FirstHealth Convenient Care - Asheboro. She said she knew they have an X-ray machine and CJ would likely need it. Physician assistant Kate McBride, PA-C, saw CJ right away.
“CJ’s accident amputated the tip of his right middle finger,” said McBride. She provided immediate care to get it stabilized and knew he needed to see an orthopedic specialist soon. Fortunately, FirstHealth Convenient Care is co-located with FirstHealth Orthopaedics, and Pinehurst Surgical Clinic’s Matt Cuthrell, PA-C, was scheduled to be in the clinic the next morning.
First thing on Friday, McBride consulted with Cuthrell, who sees patients each Friday in Asheboro. Cuthrell saw CJ the same day and took photos to share with Pinehurst Surgical Clinic orthopaedic surgeon James Marino, M.D. who specializes in hand and upper extremities. The orthopaedics providers decided surgery was best and scheduled it for the following week in Pinehurst.
“The fact that CJ was seen the next day by an orthopaedic specialist provided peace of mind for his family and me,” McBride said. “Having orthopaedics and other FirstHealth specialties in Asheboro’s Convenient Care clinic opens so many possibilities and makes it easier to be seen faster.”
In addition to orthopaedics, FirstHealth Convenient Care in Asheboro also shares space with FirstHealth Cardiology and FirstHealth Back & Neck Pain. Currently, FirstHealth cardiologists see patients on Mondays and Wednesdays. Pain management providers see patients on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The following Tuesday, Dr. Marino saw CJ at Pinehurst Surgical Clinic for pre-operative care. The family returned on Thursday for outpatient surgery. All follow-up visits and rehabilitation were with “Mr. Matt,” as CJ calls him, on Fridays near home in Asheboro.
“Care and communication from everyone has been phenomenal,” said Brodnex. “After every appointment they always told me to call with any concerns.”
McBride and Cuthrell both have experience in emergency care settings, she from a hospital emergency department and he from remote surgical units in the military. Both commented how they were pleased to follow CJ at FirstHealth Asheboro throughout his recovery.
“We get to know the family on the front and back end of the journey, not just in terms of the wound on the front end.” Cuthrell said. He added that a member of the clinic’s administrative staff picked up on the fact that CJ struggled with having his bandage removed at each visit. Next time CJ was in for a follow-up visit, she slipped him a Valentine’s Day gift to help lift his spirits.
“CJ is a tough young man,” Cuthrell said. “He had a pretty traumatic injury, and he was a trooper the whole time. You can tell his family supported him throughout the process.”
“FirstHealth has been a trusted provider of high-quality health care services in Randolph County for a number of years,” said Dan Barnes, D.O., president of FirstHealth Physician Group. “We are pleased to offer to specialties and services to further meet the needs of the community.”
Now fully healed from his injury, CJ is back to playing with his dog Ruby and plans to try out for kickball. “I think it would be fun,” he said.