When the global COVID-19 pandemic began, providers everywhere were faced with the need to delay surgical procedures to limit exposure to the virus, conserve scarce protective gear, and make room in our hospitals for a potential surge in COVID-19 patients.
As additional COVID-19 diagnostic testing becomes available, we will begin to restore access to critical, time-sensitive, and elective surgical procedures across the M Health Fairview system. This development follows an executive order from Gov. Tim Walz, which lifts restrictions on some medical and surgical procedures beginning May 11.
“Resuming surgeries for all of our patients who are waiting for care is on all of our minds every day,” said Surgeon Peter Kelly, MD, vice president and executive medical director of perioperative services for M Health Fairview. “We, too, feel the sense of urgency. Our surgeons are actively evaluating every individual need and thoughtfully moving ahead while balancing the realities of this pandemic.”
How surgeries will be prioritized
There’s not a specific list of which types of surgeries will be rescheduled first. And surgeries won’t resume in the order they were previously scheduled.
Instead, providers are considering each patient’s individual needs. Procedures determined to be the most medically necessary or urgent will be scheduled first. This includes surgeries of all types that cannot be delayed for two to three weeks without a significant negative impact. Those will be followed by surgeries that are necessary but less urgent, and last will come those that are entirely elective and can be delayed indefinitely without harm.
Surgical teams are currently evaluating all surgeries that have been postponed and contacting patients when it is time for each to be scheduled. If you do not hear from us, that means your surgery is not yet being scheduled.
What to expect when your surgery is scheduled
When you come in for your procedure, you can expect new protocols that will ensure the safest experience possible for you, your loved ones, and our staff:
Patients will be tested for COVID-19 48 to 72 hours prior to their procedure or surgery. Patients will also go through the COVID-19 screening process the day of surgery, which will include questions about symptoms and potential exposure to a COVID-positive person as well as taking your temperature. All individuals entering our facilities during this crisis are expected to wear face masks.
Physicians and staff will be screened on the day of the procedure and will wear masks during all aspects of care.
The number of people in the procedure room will be limited to essential staff.
The only visitors allowed will be a legal guardian or decision-maker for the patient (if they are unable to make their own decisions) or a parent who is accompanying a child.
If you will be going home from surgery on the same day, a ride will need to be arranged, as visitors will not be allowed to wait in the hospital or surgery center. You may designate an individual that our staff can share your post-operative instructions with by telephone.
Changes to the entrances and exits at our buildings will reduce exposure to other patients and staff.
As always, our highest priority is to provide a safe environment for everyone. As conditions evolve, we will continue to ensure that all of our patients can get the care they need and the information they deserve.