With a mother who was a family physician, Dr. Carlton Fernandes grew up hearing stories around the dinner table and quickly realized how fulfilling her career was on a personal and professional level. So it was no surprise when he decided to follow in her footsteps and enter the medical profession himself.
Originally from Edmond, today Dr. Fernandes is an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in treatment of the hand and upper extremities.
His expertise led to his new position as the lead physician for Ortho Clinic’s new Hand Center, which opened its doors on Sept. 5 of this year. The center is the latest expansion to the umbrella Ortho Central Clinic, which provides state-of-the-art care in a variety of specialties and is affiliated with Norman Regional Health System.
At the new clinic, Fernandes treats patients with issues like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, osteoarthritis, ligament and tendon injuries, ganglion cysts, broken bones in the hand, wrist and elbow and trigger finger, as well as other medical and injury-related conditions.
Fernandes said that what he likes most about his specialty is the opportunity to transform patients’ lives by freeing them from pain and returning functionality.
“I learned in medical school that a lot of medicine is just managing a disease or problem on an ongoing basis, without a definite solution,” he said.
“As an orthopedic hand surgeon, I am able to see patients with specific problems or injuries that are painful and severely impacting their quality of life, and I am able through surgery and other means to actually fix the issue. That is very meaningful to me.”
One of the greatest developments in his field is that many hand surgeries can now be performed in the doctor’s office on an out-patient basis, with the patient awake and only under a local anesthetic. This makes the procedures less intrusive and significantly speeds up recovery, with much less pain and down time for the patients, Fernandes said. In fact, he is one of the first specialist to bring these new “awake” hand surgeries to Norman.
“There are a lot of things we have solutions for that we didn’t have a few years ago, and we also have a lot of new treatment procedures that are now available,” he said.
“My approach to patient care is to personalize the experience. I think it’s important to listen to the patients carefully, and then I can figure out exactly what their needs, goals and expectations are, and how I can best bring about those results.”
Fernandes earned his bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame University, then returned to Oklahoma to complete his medical degree and residency at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. From there he completed a fellowship in hand and upper extremity surgery at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago.
He has earned multiple honors throughout his academic tenure, including a Harold Sofield Traveling Fellowship from Loyola, which allowed him to travel to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to treat patients and work with other medical professionals.
Among his academic achievements, Fernandes earned awards for scholastic and research excellence. He’s also been named to both the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society and the Gold Humanism Honor Society. (The latter recognizes senior medical students, residents and physician-teachers who exhibit outstanding excellence in clinical care, leadership, compassion and dedication to service.)
When he’s not in the office, Fernandes can usually be found hiking, working out and enjoying the great outdoors, accompanied by Leo, his beloved Alaskan malamute. He also enjoys cooking and traveling, most recently visiting Australia and Italy.
“I always knew I would return to Oklahoma to practice, and I’m thrilled to help establish the Ortho Central Hand Surgery, especially since central Oklahoma is underserved when it comes to hand surgeons,” he said.
“I really like the Norman community and our program, and it is always wonderful when I can empower patients to get back to what they love doing.”