Sixteen-year-old Benjamin Novotny doesn’t remember much about the
ATV accident that almost cost him his hand on July 25, 2017, nor the rush
to the hospital or hours of emergency surgery that followed. While his
memory is hazy of all that took place two years ago, he does remember
the calming nature of the surgeon that happened to be on call that fateful day.
“I was only 14 at the time and I was really scared,” Benjamin
said. “I don’t remember a lot of what happened, but I remember
him being calm. I’m glad he was there to calm me down.”
For Benjamin’s mom Michelle Willey, the memories of the day are seared
in her mind and what stands out for her is the quality treatment her son
Dr. Stanford Israelsen, an orthopedic surgeon at
Powder River Orthopedics & Spine in Gillette, Wyoming.
“Dr. Israelsen was very professional, very kind,” Michelle
said. “He was quick to act and explained things as he was going.
I was just very impressed with him overall.”
From Sheridan, Michelle and Benjamin had been in Gillette visiting her
parents and Benjamin was enjoying the day riding ATVs. When the ATV he
was driving rolled, his hand was injured, in what medical professionals
call a de-gloving, where the top layers of skin and tissue are torn away
from the underlying muscle, connective tissue or bone. He also broke several
bones in his hand and the wound was full of dirt.
“He came in with a really dirty, open wound,” Dr. Israelsen
said. “It was critical to get to surgery as quick as possible when
you have a severe injury like that.”
The surgery was mostly to clean the wound and reattach the tissue that
had been torn away. Since the family lived in Sheridan, they requested
to do their follow-up care closer to home. But when Michelle took Benjamin
to the Sheridan orthopedic surgeon a few days later, that doctor’s
assessment that an infection was starting caused him to tell the mother
and son that Benjamin’s injuries might be better served with the
surgeon who had seen the injury and worked on it from the beginning.
After a quick phone call to Dr. Israelsen’s office, Michelle and
Benjamin were en route to Gillette where he would once again undergo surgery.
“Both surgeries were urgent,” Dr. Israelsen said. “The
important thing we did was the initial management of the problem.”
With so much dirt in his hand, infection had been the biggest concern.
After the second surgery, Dr. Israelsen also had to tell the family that
he believed they would be better served by someone who could provide more
specialized care. So after a night stay at
Campbell County Memorial Hospital, Benjamin was taken by ambulance to Denver Health Medical Center where
trauma specialists and plastic surgeons would perform three more surgeries
in the next week and two more in the past two years.
Today, Benjamin is an active 17-year-old who plays football, attends school
and works part-time. While his hand will never be 100 percent, he and
Michelle are thankful that he still has his hand, and they both credit
Dr. Israelsen’s quick response both times for making that happen.
“I don’t think we could have asked for a better orthopedic
surgeon,” Michelle said. “We got an amazing start to help
him save his hand.”
Michelle and Benjamin stopped by Dr. Israelsen’s office this summer
to thank him for his efforts.
“It really made my day. It’s nice to see the end result in
what looked like a disaster initially and actually turned out well in
the end,” Dr. Israelsen said.
Expert Orthopedic & Spine Care in Gillette, Wyoming
Dr. Stanford Israelsen is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon at
Powder River Orthopedics & Spine in Gillette, Wyoming. The physicians at PROS take an innovative and comprehensive
approach to the treatment of acute and chronic orthopedic pain. Have your
procedure in our modern
operating rooms at Campbell County Memorial Hospital or
Powder River Surgery Center.
See the PROS for:
- General orthopedic surgery
- Joint replacement surgery: shoulder, hip, knee and ankle
- Shoulder, elbow, hand and wrist surgery
- Sports Medicine
- Spine surgery and injections, including minimally invasive procedures
- Bunions and great toe arthritis procedures
- Foot and ankle surgery
- Trauma and fracture care
- Workplace injuries
For a consultation, call 307.686.1413 or visit
Article written by Kim Phagan-Hansel, Wyoming freelance writer