By Kendall McGee | May 6, 2020 at 4:09 PM EDT – Updated May 6 at 7:19 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – New Hanover Regional Medical Center resumed surgical and diagnostic testing services this week.
On March 20, the hospital announced they would be postponing as many surgeries as possible to free up beds and resources for COVID-19 patients.
Operating rooms at the 17th street campus and the orthopedic hospital opened Monday for essential procedures. Doctors are now performing outpatient surgeries. If things continue to go well and the county doesn’t see a spike in coronavirus cases, they plan to move into phase two a week or ten days later, taking care of cases requiring short term hospitalization. After that, providers may begin seeing higher risk patients that require longer stays.
Under the plan, experts look at the county’s health metrics every day to make sure its still safe to continue to offer surgeries and diagnostic testing services. If the numbers take a turn for the worst, leaders are able to walk back their plan to prepare for a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Doctors say they’re excited to get back to helping people, but they’re still being cautious and taking every precaution. Visitors aren’t allowed at the hospital and workers are following CDC guidelines to keep their patients and staff safe from the coronavirus.
“Its really exciting to be able to offer them what they’ve needed for this lengthy period of time and get them back into the road to health and recovery,” said Dr. Jack Bowling of Bowling Orthopaedics.
Dr. Jack Bowling says the past several weeks been tough for many patients. Some procedures that were not so urgent a month ago are becoming more urgent.
“The early ones will be patients who pain levels are significantly high, requiring the use of opioid medications, which we all know is not great for us. We’d like to get them off those medications and give them a permanent solution to their pain,” said Dr. Bowling.
Bowling Orthopaedics says they’ve taken time to counsel patients prescribed pain medications to lower the risk of dependency, however dependence on drugs isnt the only risk of putting off surgery. Many people struggling with injuries and mobility issues are also unable to take care of themselves and struggle with their independence.
“Getting dressed, cooking for themselves, getting to the bathroom without assistance. Independence is a very important factor and many of these patients begin to lose independence as their disease progresses. Surgery is a way to give them back that independence and get them back into a quality lifestyle,” said Dr. Bowling. “When grandma loses her independence, it doesn’t just effect her, it effects everyone who helps take care of grandma. You’d be surprised how many times grandma deciding ‘I’m not gonna do it now’ ends up falling and fractures her hip.”
According to the hospital, patients whose procedures or tests were postponed should contact their care provider if they have any questions or concerns or experience worsening symptoms.
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