Resuming Elective Surgeries: Keeping You Safe With a Phased Approach
Learn how our phased approach to resuming elective surgeries keeps you safe in this week's 2 Your Well-Being Discussion with Cone Health's Chief Operating Officer Mary Jo Cagle, MD, Moses Cone Hospital's Chief Medical Officer Jay Wyatt, MD, and WFMY News 2.
What has gone into the decision to start offering elective surgeries and procedures once again?
Mary Jo Cagle, MD: “First of all, we had to take into account the guidance of the state. So we listened very intently to what Secretary Cohen and Governor Cooper stated in their comments at the beginning of last week. We're very attentive to that, as well as what our federal government and national societies like the American College of Surgeons have been saying in their guidance to us about going back to surgery.
“The guidance talks about looking in our community at what the cases of COVID look like, so we are looking at [whether we] have we stopped increasing in cases, or have we plateaued, or started to go down. As we talked about last week, we've seen a plateau of cases.
“We also are looking at what we call the ‘reproduction rate of the virus.’ In other words, is the number of cases increasing rapidly, or is it starting to slow down? And we are seeing that it is starting to slow down in our community.
“We also have to look at [whether we] can provide care in a safe environment. Do we have enough protective equipment for our employees? Enough masks and enough gowns? The answer to that is yes. Do we have enough tests? The answer is yes. And can we create an environment that has the right cleanliness and social distancing so that we can invite our patients in and a support person who would care for them so we can give good instructions? And if we can answer yes to all of those questions, then we can invite them in.
“Also, for patients who do have COVID, can we care for them in a place that is separate from where those patients who are coming for surgery are coming? And as you know, we have the Green Valley Hospital, [at] which we're glad to say we can provide care in a safe and wonderful manner for patients who have COVID-19, which is totally separate from where we'll provide the surgeries.
“So those were all ‘hurdles,’ if you will, that we needed to be able to cross to be able to offer surgery, and so when we were able to say yes to those things, then we could say it's time to move forward with surgery."
Can you tell us about the phased approach Cone Health is taking to resume elective surgeries?
Jay Wyatt, MD: “So as you probably remember in about the middle of March, we abruptly shut down our elective and non-urgent surgical cases and other procedures. In order to get it back up and running, we can't just open the floodgates and overwhelm our staff and our resources and start doing everything right away - including the backlog of cases that we've accumulated over that period of time. So the phased-in approach is to first try to hit that backlog of cases. We're going to open up our ambulatory sites first, and as we slowly increase our production over time, we will go up to about 100% - and even above 100% - in about three to four weeks. But in order to not overwhelm our resources and personnel, we want to do this fairly slowly.”
What should people do if they were previously scheduled for surgery or procedures?
Jay Wyatt, MD: “I think that providers have done a really good job of placing priority on those patients that need to be done sooner than later, and so they probably have already contacted their patients that have been postponed and are trying to get them back on the books. I would give them a week or so to get a phone call from the doctors and if not, then they may just give them a call to see - but most of [the providers] have done a really good job of already reaching out to their patient population.”