The entire country is focused on the daily updates regarding COVID-19. Every aspect of our lives has been impacted as schools and restaurants close and hospitals are facing mounting challenges.
In light of the request by CMS Administrator Seema Verma for hospitals to cancel elective surgeries, some patients are opting to delay their procedures and others are moving forward. Physicians are responding in kind, and some hospitals have also decided to apply the guidance on a case-by-case basis. When it comes to patients suffering chronic pain, it is understandable to do so.
Among the facilities that are continuing to allow elective surgeries to take place is Sacramento’s UC Davis Health, which considers many of these elective surgeries essential because of their expected outcomes. According to that facility’s Robert Szabo, MD, professor of orthopedics and chief emeritus of hand, upper extremity and microvascular surgery in the department of orthopedics, each patient is making their own decision.
“Some have been waiting for surgery and are in a fair amount of distress and are grateful that we are willing to go ahead and treat them and they are informed of and claim to understand the risks involved,” he said.
In response to patients wanting to move forward, all medical facilities are taking appropriate precautions against the virus and the spread of other illnesses as well. Extra attention is being paid and steps being taken when any of the staff – or the patient themselves – are not feeling well.
Those who are coughing, sneezing or who have a fever will see their procedures canceled, and of course hand-washing is being done constantly by all involved. Additionally, many facilities have adjusted the number of visitors that each patient is permitted.
Cooper University Hospital in New Jersey has issued notifications that patients undergoing any kind of surgery – whether ambulatory or inpatient – will be limited to a single visitor.
As is true with everything else having to do with the public health emergency, the ability to have elective surgery may change. Dr. Szabo says,
“This is a day-by-day decision that may change at any time, particularly if we see that there is a need for resources. We are carefully monitoring this and have contingency plans in place for resources including staffing. I think that it is important to distinguish that there are different kinds of ‘elective surgery’ and we try to make thoughtful decisions.”
For patients who are suffering chronic pain and seeking help from our New Jersey spine surgery practice, it is important to do everything we can to provide relief. Taking a conservative approach is always our first step. If those treatment protocols will not work, surgery at our outpatient ambulatory center will be offered and the staff and facility will maintain the highest standard of safety and sanitary precautions.