Dolan completes 1000th hand surgery

By Janet Rail

Dolan completes 1000th hand surgery

Dr. Mike Dolan in his surgical suite. Staff Photo by Janet Rail

The leading destination for comprehensive treatment and rehabilitation of disorders of the hand, wrist and elbow is the Hand Specialty Center of Tennessee located at McNairy Regional Hospital.

Over two years ago, Pamela Roberts, Chief Executive Officer of MRH, wanted to develop a unique medical niche to attract business to her hospital. Realizing that the hospital did not have an intensive care unit, she believed hand surgery could be the perfect program to develop.

It wasn’t long before Roberts and Dr. Mike Dolan introduced the opening of a new center of excellence, the hand specialty center. Just last week, Dr. Dolan completed his 1000th hand surgery after only two years in practice. Patients are referred from north Mississippi, north Alabama, and all over west Tennessee, including large medical communities like Memphis. 

Over the 4th of July, Dolan had two patients flown in from Baptist East and The Med in Memphis. The week before, Dolan performed surgery on one patient from Union City and two from Dyersburg. Recently a patient was in another hospital, prepped for surgery, and the surgeon made the determination to air evac the patient to Dolan to perform the surgery.

“We do re-plants here of traumatic amputations which is where a body part has been amputated and needs to be put back on,” stated Dolan. He has completed more than 10 re-plants to date. 

One of his most challenging cases was a carpenter who was using a miter saw and cut three fingers off. He re-attached two fingers and used parts of others to reconstruct the third digit. According to Dolan, the patient is now back playing golf and doing fine.

“My focus is hand to elbow,” stated Dolan. Among some of the services provided are pediatric hand conditions including congenital, infectious and traumatic; fracture management; tendon and soft tissue injury repair; microsurgical nerve and vascular repair; re-plantation of traumatic amputations, management of tumors of skin, connective tissue and bone, acute and chronic wound care and more.

According to Dolan what he sees the most is carpel tunnel syndrome, base of the thumb arthritis, fingers shut in doors or cut by a knife or saw. “Many people don’t know you can do something about arthritis at the base of the thumb,” he said. 

The majority of surgery is concentrated on reattaching digits, dislocated and injured or dislocated wrists , complications from arthritis, carpel tunnel release, congenital digits (extra digits),  and skin cancer. 

Dolan is passionate about medicine. His journey was long but his determination steady.

He grew up in the south, living in Jackson Mississippi before moving with his parents to Ft. Worth, Texas. 

“I was a kid who always wanted to be a physician. My grandfather was a physician,” said Dolan. While attending Baylor he said he played a lot and did not do good enough to get into med school after applying twice. He then worked as a phlebotomist at a large hospital when he encountered an older patient who challenged him.

The man asked him why a college educated man was working as a phlebotomist. Dolan shared his dream of becoming a doctor. The patient encouraged him to apply to St. George’s University School of Medicine in the island of Grenada in the West Indies.

In 1988, Dolan applied to St. Georges and was accepted. “My whole life I had one dream and I would not let anything get in my way,” Dolan continued. St. George’s school of medicine was founded in 1977 and draws students from 140 countries. 

When asked, “Why Selmer?” Dolan replied, “It has been surprising as everyone thought I was crazy for coming here, and I wasn’t sure it would work, but had high hopes, and this venture has turned into a great success. I completed 400 surgeries my first year as the practice really took off.”

Plans are to continue his practice in Selmer, and now he has clinic one day a week in Jackson, Tenn. Dolan has a wife Heather, a Nurse Practitioner, and a two year old son, Sean, who reside in Pickwick Lake area where they enjoy boating and water sports.