A severed finger and now my list of recommendations

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Last summer, we were playing soccer with some friends at a local park when a 6 year-old bike rider, when faced with crashing into a bench versus my son, chose my son.  I didn’t see or hear the crash. I was halfway across the soccer field feeding our infant daughter when I heard someone yelling my name. (Why, oh, why didn’t I put my daughter down and run after that kid when I saw him looping dangerously around the park? Why didn’t the dad when I told him that the biker narrowly missed hitting his 15 month old? Or the mom who just shook her head as her son circled the park like a blinded animal, swerving through packs of preschoolers?)

Here’s what I did do: I looked up when I heard my name being screamed. I saw a mother, her white shirt spotted with blood, lumbering towards me, bearing the weight of my leg-pumping, head-bucking son.  His tortured and twisted face was smeared with blood.

I ran towards them, holding my arms out for my son, but yelling to the mom, “where’s the blood coming from?”

“From his finger,” she managed to yell back above my son’s shrieking.

Between us, I breathed a sigh of relief. Not his head, yes, not his head. His finger.

And then I looked at his finger. Or what I thought looked like his finger. I didn’t recognize the partially severed pointer that held on with what seemed to be tissue, or a nerve, or just pure luck. I placed the top of his finger onto its stem and held the two together through his thrashing and tried to focus on what I was to do next.

Somebody wonderful brought over their orange towel. An orange towel which my son couldn’t tell the difference between the stain of his blood seeping through or the orange dye of the fabric.

And then the questions began.

Did I want a ride to a hospital?


Did I want an ambulance?


Did I want ice?

Yes. No. I don’t know- maybe.  You use ice for this right?

And then I panicked because I realized that at that very moment I needed to know the answer to a most essential question- before the ambulance came.

Which hospital should I go to for a severed finger?

No one knew of course.  Why would they?

When the ambulance came, the medics suggested one hospital over another for replantation (of fingers). I took their suggestion, hoping it was the best. It turned out fine, but it probably wasn’t our best option. In hindsight, I should have called my pediatrician and asked his opinion, but I couldn’t think, think, think.
Snapshots of the accident still play in my head.  I believed my world might be crashing- again. I’m not a stranger to life-altering accidents. It seems to be a constant worry in my life as a vulnerable mother, wife, daughter and person- afraid to lose the most precious things in my life.

But, what is true is that we didn’t have our lives altered in any significant way- pain for many days, yes, trips to doctors and a lost summer of swimming, but in reality, nothing instrumental changed .  It was a partially severed finger and it was his non-dominant hand. After 3 visits to orthopedic surgeons, it all turned out fine and even today, when I clip my son’s fingernails, I can barely see the white line where his finger was reconnected. He doesn’t even remember which hand, let alone which finger, was in jeopardy.

After living through this, I determined to find out which hospitals or orthopedic surgeons were recommended in NYC.  After a lot of research and input from my friend who is an orthopedic surgeon, I have compiled a list of hospitals and surgeons that might become a “cheat sheet” should you ever need it. Let’s hope that you never have to read this post again though.

Please feel free to add any comment to this post, should you have any suggestions for anyone too.

Okay, so this is my opinion, and informed by my friend who is an orthopedic surgeon (that doesn’t work at any of these hospitals, by the way) and by my experience.  3 best hospitals for orthopedic surgery: Hospital of Special Surgery, NYU’s Hospital for Joint Diseases, and Lenox Hill. (Bellevue is known for replantation too if you don’t have good insurance or any insurance. We used them and it turned out well).  Hospital of Special Surgery referral line; 212-606-1555 to find doctors that have availability and will take your insurance.

Dr. Aaron Daluski


Hospital For Special Surgery
East River Professional Building, 4th Floor
523 East 72nd Street
New York, NY 10021
(Hospital For Special Surgery)
Dr. Aaron Daluiski is a clinician-scientist specializing in Hand and Upper Extremity surgery. He received his medical degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and completed his clinical training in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at UCLA. Dr. Daluiski has also completed a research fellowship concentrating on the molecular aspects of limb development and bone biology. He has completed the Hand and Upper Extremity clinical fellowship at Hospital for Special Surgery. His current research interests include the isolation and study of genes involved with fracture healing and limb development.

Dr. Sergai DeLaMora, MD


159 East 74th Street, 2nd Floor
New York, New York   10021
(212) 737-3301
(646) 619-8950
Fax: (212) 439-1695
(Lenox Hill)
Primary Specialty:  Orthopaedic Surgery  Secondary Specialty:  Sports Medicine
Undergraduate Education:  BS : 1994  Cornell University – Ithaca, NY
Medical Education:  MD : 1998  NYU School of Medicine – New York, NY
Residency:  Orthopedic Surgery : 2003  Mount Sinai Medical Center – New York, NY
Fellowship:  Sports Medicine : 2003  Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic – Los Angeles, CA
Board Certified : 2007

Dr. Jenny Frances, MD
301 E. 17th Street
New York, NY 10003
Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon at NYU Hospital for Special Diseases. She completed a fellowship in Orthopaedic Surgery at the Children’s Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Steven J. Lee, MD
130 E 77th St 5th Fl Black Hall
New York, NY 10021
(212) 737 – 3301
Fax: (212) 737 – 4876
(Lenox Hill)Dr. Lee is a board certified, double fellowship trained, orthopedic surgeon. Although he welcomes all facets of orthopaedic surgery, he specializes in the treatment of the most complex disorders of the hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder, knee, and ankle.  His specialty interests include: Arthroscopy and minimally invasive surgery; Complex hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder injuries; Shoulder separations, dislocations, and rotator cuff tears; Upper extremity fractures; TFCC and ligament tears of the hand/wrist; Meniscus, ACL and other ligament tears of the knee; Cartilage injuries and repair/transplantation; Upper extremity nerve disorders; Tendon ruptures; and all facets of sports medicine

Dr. Steve K. Lee
550 First Avenue
New York, NY 10016
(212) 598-6697
(NYU Hospital For Joint Diseases)
Dr. Steve K. Lee is Associate Chief of the Hand Surgery Division of The NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases Orthopaedic Institute, the world renowned specialty orthopaedic hospital. His expertise ranges from all problems of the hand, wrist, forearm, and elbow. He treats all age groups from infants to adults. Problems include: carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger, sports injuries, fractures, dislocations, ligament injuries (sprains), tendon injuries, tendonitis, nerve compression, nerve injuries, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, arthroscopy, joint replacement, congenital deformities, stiff joints, Dupuytren’s contracture, tennis elbow, infection, replantation, microsurgery, tumors, vascular disorders, brachial plexus injury, among others.

Dr. Salvatore Lenzo
550 First Avenue
New York, NY 10016
(212) 734-9949
(NYU Hospital For Joint Diseases)
Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Medical Specialty
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome; Elbow Surgery; Tendon-Nerve Disorder; Orthopaedic Microsurgery; Hand Surgery, Medical Education, NYU School of Medicine 1981
Internships- Montefiore Medical Center (Surgery) 1981-1982
Clinical Fellowships- NYU Medical Center (Hand Surgery) 1986-1987
Board Certifications- Orthopaedic Surgery; Hand Surgery

Dr. Nader Paksima D.O, MPH
NYU Langone Medical Center
Faculty Practice Tower, 8
Suite U, 530 First Ave (at 33rd St)
Suite 8U
New York, NY 10016
(Hospital for Joint Diseases)
Dr. Paksima is a board certified orthopedic surgeon and holds a Certificate of Added Qualification in Hand Surgery. He completed his Masters of Public Health at Harvard University. Dr. Paksima did his residency training in at Ohio University, followed by the prestigious Emanuel B Kaplan fellowship in hand and upper extremity surgery at NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases. Dr. Paksima is the Chief of Orthopedic Surgery at Jamaica Hospital as well as Assistant Chief of the Hand Service and Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases. He is the past president of the American Osteopathic Academy of Orthopedic Surgery-Hand section and serves as a board examiner for the American Osteopathic Board of Orthopedic Surgery. Dr. Paksima has authored numerous peer reviewed articles and book chapters and has made many national and international scientific presentations. He is a member of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery, The New York Hand Society, The American Osteopathic Academy of Orthopedic Surgery, and the American Osteopathic Association.

We saw Dr. Paksima based on a recommendation from a friend. He saw our 3 year old for a partially severed finger. He has a terrific bedside manner, he couldn’t be nicer. Our son felt comfortable with him despite the pain he was feeling. He did his residency at Hospital for Joint Diseases so I feel that he has a great training.  He was reassuring and very thorough.

Keith B. Raskin M.D.
550 First Avenue
New York, NY 10016
(212) 598-6697
(NYU Hospital For Joint Diseases)
Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Medical Specialty- Hand Surgery; Elbow Surgery; Carpal Tunnel Syndrome; Fractures; Dupuytrens Syndrome; Arthritis; Tendon-Nerve Disorder.  Medical Interests- Wrist Arthroscopy, Dupuytren’s Needle Release, Microsurgery, Golf and Tennis Injuries of the Wrist and Elbow, Athletic Injuries, Tumors, Fractures and Congenital and Vascular Conditions.. Medical Education- George Washington U 1983  Clinical Fellowships- Union Memorial Hospital (Hand Surgery) 1988-1989 Board Certifications Orthopaedic Surgery; Hand Surgery; Ortho Surgery


Bellevue Hospital Center
462 First Avenue
New York, New York 10016
General Information: (212) 562-1000
Bellevue is the flagship hospital of New York City’s Health and Hospital’s Corporation, a system of public hospitals located throughout the metro area. Located just two blocks south of NYU’s Tisch Hospital, this 1,232-bed facility has had a long-standing affiliation with the NYU HJD Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.  NYU HJD physicians are responsible for all orthopaedic inpatient care at Bellevue and run weekly clinics in the subspecialties of Hand, Implant, Fracture, Pediatrics, Sports Medicine, and Scoliosis. Nearly 8,000 orthopaedic patients are evaluated on an emergency basis at Bellevue every year, and more than 1,000 orthopaedic procedures are performed there annually. Bellevue’s Trauma program is recognized as the finest in New York and physicians on the NYU HJD Orthopaedic Trauma service are proud to enhance Bellevue’s reputation in this important subspecialty.

Hospital for Joint Diseases (HJD) – see Bellevue too
301 East 17th Street
New York, New York 10003
(212) 598-6000 (General Information)
Physician Referral: (888) 453-3627
The country’s largest specialty hospital dedicated to the prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal diseases. Each year over 6,000 urgent-care patients are evaluated for orthopaedic injuries and conditions, and over 11,000 operative procedures are performed by our faculty.  The clinical expertise of the physicians at NYU HJD represents all subspecialty areas of orthopaedic surgery, including spine, total joint replacement, sports medicine, arthroscopy, pediatric orthopaedics, shoulder, hand, and foot and ankle. NYU HJD is one of the world’s largest providers of total joint replacements with over 1,200 joint replacement procedures performed annually.

Hospital For Special Surgery
535 East 70th St
New York, NY 10021
Tel: (212)606-1000
Hospital for Special Surgery is the nation’s leading specialty hospital for orthopedics and rheumatology. People come to HSS from all over the world seeking the best possible medical care.

Lenox Hill Hospital
100 E. 77th Street
New York, NY 10075
The Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital is recognized nationwide for its expertise in the treatment of a broad range of musculoskeletal conditions, including disorders of the knees, hips, spine, feet, ankles, shoulders, elbows and hands. The Department has pioneered minimally invasive techniques in orthopedic surgery. Modern Healthcare magazine named Lenox Hill Hospital one of the top 100 teaching hospitals with an Orthopedic Residency Program.

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  1. Hi Melisa
    It sounds like you did what I wish I had done: call my pediatrician for recommendations for the right ER room for what is happening at the time.
    Great to know that HJD was where you went- and that they do have an Urgent Care. I had asked for Hospital for Special Services ER and they said they didn’t have one?

    Thanks for your review of HJD.

    Fingers crossed for all for a safe summer too!

  2. Jill
    I loved your reasoning: I plan where we’re having lunch when we’re out for the day, for goodness sakes, why wouldn’t I even plan loosely for a broken arm?

    I didn’t realize that Hosp for Spec Surgery doesn’t take a lot of insurance. We ended up at HJD and all bills were taken care of that for that portion of the accident. Forget the plastic surgeon or ambulance though.

    Yes- wishes of an ER-free summer for all!

  3. That story made my stomach flip. It sounds so awful! I’m afraid of “jinx” so I’m not noting my children’s accident history, but your story has made me think about formulating a plan — where would I take the kids in an emergency like yours. I don’t make my best decisions when panicking, so some advance prep is a great idea. I plan where we’re having lunch when we’re out for the day, for goodness sakes, why wouldn’t I even plan loosely for a broken arm?

    When my son was much younger, he found a visiting friend’s medication and we couldn’t tell if it he had actually taken any or not. As we were on the UWS, we ended up at Mt. Sinai b/c they have a pediatric ER. They ended up admitting him but one day was spent in the ER waiting for a room. After 10 hours, we were moved to the pediatric ICU where we spent the night. They all treated us well, though I hope never to need to go back.

    My only experience with any of your hospitals listed is Hospital for Special Surgery, where I had orthopedic stuff done last year — I can’t say enough good things about the hospital, doctors and staff, though the doctors don’t take much insurance. Hope the kids don’t encounter the need for that until they’re much older (and are paying their own medical bills)!

    Here’s to a medical emergency-free summer!

  4. Oh, Karen, I felt for you reading that post — my goodness, you must have been so frantic/scared last summer when that happened! I’m sorry to say I have some experience in this area, too — with broken bones. Definitely scary, but all was fine in the end.

    So…. For me — 2 kids, 2 playground injuries resulting in broken bones. My son fractured his arm at our local playground two years ago and my daughter broke three bones in her left hand (!!!) six weeks ago. For both injuries, our pediatricians (Gordon & Glaser in Park Slope) referred us to Urgent Care at NYU’s Hospital for Joint diseases, mentioned above. After the initial visits for X-rays and getting the casts, we had to return to NYU/HJD doctors for follow-up. (In fact, I was just there yesterday seeing Dr. Alfred Grant with my daughter.)

    Good experiences with them all around! I hope (hope! hope!) we don’t have to visit a third time, but I’d feel very comfortable going there if we had to — they were caring, gentle, and thorough.

    Thanks for this list! And fingers crossed for a safe summer at the playgrounds! :)

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