Resuming Elective Surgeries and Procedures: What You Should Know
Chief Physician Executive Bruce Swords, MD, PhD, shares Cone Health's approach to resuming elective surgeries and how we're keeping you safe when you seek care in this week's 2 Your Well-Being discussion with WFMY News 2.
What is involved in phase 2 of resuming elective procedures?
“When we started thinking about reopening and performing more elective procedures, we developed a phased approach, so phase 1, 2, 3 - and when we started talking with that language, we realized that it wasn't terribly adequate, and so we still will slip into the phase 1, 2, 3 discussion at times, but now we're really focused on what procedures and what volumes are we capable of providing safely this week, next week, and we're making week-by-week decisions about what procedures we're doing at which one of our facilities.”
How does Cone Health determine that it is time to move forward from one week to the next?
“Throughout this process, we have chosen to base our decisions on four metrics, really - one is, are we capable of taking care of the patients that present to our emergency departments and our admitted to our facilities? So, do we have the capability of taking care of them and how many patients are we taking care of at one time. So that's really our first metric, and then in order to support that work and all of the other work that we need to do, we want to make sure that we have appropriate personal protective equipment, PPE. We need to make sure we have enough testing and the people who can do the testing, and then we have a significant body of work focused on, do we have enough staffing, physicians, nurses - do we have enough ICU beds - So really, this whole idea around capacity is what we're focused on.
“So those four ideas: how many patients are we taking care of, do we have PPE, do we have testing, and this whole idea around the right capacity.”
Are these metrics influenced by the actions of the community?
“Maybe all of it has to do with how we behave and what we do as community members. So if we are doing what we're supposed to be doing in regards to social distancing, wearing a mask, washing our hands, performing other hand hygiene - those are absolutely the things that community members can do.
“In addition to that, which we've heard for a long time now, the other thing our community members can do is come to the hospital and seek care when you need it. If you're suffering from a medical emergency or some other medical urgency – it's an emergency because time is of the essence, so seek medical care now. Don't be concerned about COVID because our health system, our facilities, our offices, our hospitals are all safe. … Significant injury, symptoms of a stroke, heart attack, shortness of breath - those require immediate care and don't stay at home, because some of these things need to be fixed now or they can't be fixed.”
Is there anything else we can do as community members to get ready for elective procedures?
“I think the safest thing to do when you're going to schedule an elective procedure, one is - take care of yourself. Be healthy. Eat well. Exercise. Do all of those things. From a COVID perspective, think about really staying away from each other and wearing a mask. So don't go outside of your home for as long as you can prior to the procedure. If you do need to go outside, wear a mask. Pay extra caution to quarantining yourself in some sort of fashion before the elective procedure.”