JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Retailers and restaurants weren’t the only industries with restrictions put in place out of precaution for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elective surgeries have also been put on standby to save medical supplies and personal protective equipment for the front-line workers handling the coronavirus pandemic in hospitals throughout the state.
“It’s important to get hospitals back online with elective procedures so Tennesseans can safely resume more routine services,” said Gov. Bill Lee.
Routine screenings and quality of life procedures are included. Elective surgeries are defined as surgeries that can be planned in advance and are non-life-threatening; however, one local doctor says that although a procedure might be considered elective, that doesn’t make it unimportant.
“The timing and approach for restarting elective care will be determined at the community level in accordance with these guidelines,” said Dr. Windy Long, president of the Tennessee Hospital Association.
Those guidelines include reporting of capacity and Covid-19 patients, having meetings to review disease trends and resources, access to protective equipment and testing and screening of patients, staff and visitors.
“Elective doesn’t mean unnecessary,” said Dr. Grover May, and OBGYN with State of Franklin Health Care Associates. “I think there’s a real distinction there. Elective means that it’s not life or death at the moment.”
Making patients wait for daily surgeries was something Dr. May never anticipated.
“There are about 7500 cases in the backlog for the region and every group has several to bring forward to do, as soon as possible,” said. Dr. May. He says his group makes up about 200 of those.
Waiting any longer could cause major delays and be detrimental in some cases.
“There are patients who are awaiting a diagnosis of something that’s not urgent but may represent a cancer. There are patients who are having pain who are managing that with other methods. There are patients who are having an issue of bleeding or just life-altering things that we typically do day in and day out,” said Dr. May. “At some point, it’s difficult to get patients on who need that surgery until what was once elective becomes emergent.”
Hospitals will have to submit data and analysis as operations begin and scale up over the next few weeks.