Physician Spotlight: Healing Hands and Restoring Human Connection

People use their hands to console a loved one in times of need, to create art and music, to communicate and to shake after closing a business deal. It’s those human interactions that got John Kadzielski, MD, into the field of hand surgery many years ago. Dr. Kadzielski is the Director of the Division of Hand Surgery and has practiced at South Shore Orthopedics in Hingham since 2012.

In our latest edition of Physician Spotlight, Dr. Kadzielski spent time with us to discuss his practice, why hand surgery is important to him and the expertise that can be found within his team at South Shore Hospital.

1.) Why did you choose to go into hand surgery?

I have always cared deeply about things that are important to the one-on-one human relationship. I wanted to be able to influence and restore things that impacted people on a meaningful and intimate level. The ability of one human to touch another and feel the warmth of a loved one was really at the core of that. Whether it is a mother holding her baby again or someone who suffers a traumatic injury having the ability to go back to doing the things that they love and providing for their family, that is what motivates me. In the end, it was being able to make a meaningful impact to allow one human to connect with another that got me interested in hand surgery.

2.) What kind of expertise does South Shore Health offer for people with hand and arm conditions?

We have tremendous clinical talent here, in both plastic surgery and hand and upper extremity orthopedic trained surgeons. We care for children less than a year of age to people over 100. We have expertise in trauma, post-traumatic reconstruction, micro surgery, nerve surgery, sports medicine, Dupuytren’s Contracture, masses, cysts, tendinitis, infection, arthritis and tendonopathies. We also specialize in problems of the upper extremity including the clavicle.

Our biggest differentiator is not any one skill or area of expertise, but the ability for all of our surgeons to work together as a team overcoming challenging problems together, and allowing people to receive world class comprehensive care in the community in which they live. As a Division, we have standardized the care of complicated hand and upper extremity problems both in the inpatient and outpatient setting. We’ve developed new ways to meet the needs and demands of our community. Our goal is to provide the right care, at the right place, at the right time while maximizing safety, efficiency, and value for our patients.

3.) What kinds of cases do you treat?

We see a lot of hand and upper extremity trauma and work closely with the clinical teams at the adult and pediatric Emergency Departments at South Shore Hospital. We also care for hand and upper extremity infections—many of which are associated with animal bites—and also behavioral health and opioid-related issues. It is not uncommon to see the hand surgeons here at night doing urgent and emergent cases after a trauma including microvascular reconstructions. This work supports the hospital's commitment to provide Level II Trauma Center services to our community. We have virtually eliminated the need to send anyone to Boston for hand and arm injuries.

4.) What’s new with hand surgery at South Shore Health?

The majority of our surgical cases are done under regional anesthesia with our Anesthesiologist and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) colleagues who are some of the top providers for this specialized type of care in the region. Also, we now perform procedures under local anesthesia, meaning the patient is wide awake. This means our patients can eat and drive home shortly after surgery.

Traditionally, surgical care is very disruptive and has many indirect costs to our patients and their families. You go see your primary care doctor. You get a referral. You go see the surgeon. You go get lab work done. You get sent for x-rays. You get sent for an EKG. You get sent for a chest x-ray. Before you know it, two weeks have gone by, and you and your family members have missed work and you haven’t even started to address the problem. Today, we can cut out all that time and expense, and provide patients with comprehensive care in one location within a day or two, and when needed, on the same day. As part of the foundation for a comprehensive hand and upper extremity center, we have grown our Occupational Therapy department, we can administer IV antibiotics on an outpatient basis and place peripherally inserted central catheter or PICC lines. The ability to have all of these resources on site at South Shore Hospital's Center for Orthopedics, Spine and Sports Medicine allows us to transition the care of historically inpatient problems to the outpatient care setting. Many of our patients walk into and out of the building with their problem resolved the same day. It’s great.

5.) What made you decide to practice with South Shore Orthopedics and South Shore Health?

It was the opportunity to build a division and develop a comprehensive hand & upper extremity surgery center within our Health System for the care of community. To that end, we’ve grown every single year and have developed a cohesive team and a system of care for patients with hand and upper extremity conditions. We are committed to making sure individuals of all ages receive world-class, comprehensive, efficient, safe and definitive care in real-time under one roof. We are dedicated to bringing the subspecialist out into the community to meet the needs of our patients who have entrusted us with their care. I have found serving our community as part of the Division of Hand Surgery personally and professionally rewarding.

To learn more about the Hand Disorders & Surgery Program at South Shore Orthopedics visit their website. For more information on Dr. Kadzielski and his team visit the Find a Doctor section on South Shore Health’s website.