SARASOTA, Fla. - Elective surgeries across the state of Florida have resumed, but many hospitals are now screening patients for COVID-19 before they head into the operation room. Doctors hope the extra precaution will help prevent the virus from spreading to medical staff and other patients.
The thought of delaying her full hip replacement was painful enough for Tina Forsberg. After waiting more than a month, she was one of the first electives surgeries performed Monday morning at Doctors Hospital of Sarasota.
"It's a needed thing. I know they call it an elective surgery," said Tina Forsberg. "The quality of life just bottoms out when you’re in that kind of pain."
Dr. Charles Stewart's orthopedic surgery patients were put off as the country prepared for an increase in COVID-19 cases. Stopping surgeries saved much-needed personal protective equipment and medications, while also freeing up space for patients.
"Some of them are really big surgeries that are deemed medically necessary but are an elective timeline," said Dr. Stewart.
Hospitals are now prepared with extra precautions. COVID-19 patients and staff treating them are kept out of elective surgery areas, while the hospital is stocked with extra PPE.
"The consumption we are going to do for elective procedures such as hip and knee replacements realistically won’t adversely affect our system’s ability to deal with whatever comes next," said Stewart.
Around 500 surgeries were put on hold at Doctors Hospital of Sarasota. Some hospitals, including Doctors Hospital, will now offer elective surgeries on the weekend to help clear the backlog. CEO Bob Meade is concerned that a stigma surrounding COVID-19 could cause patients to delay treatments.
"If you leave your home, this is probably the safest place to go," said Meade.
Just ask Tina. She says living with the pain is worse.
"I would say to the people who are contemplating do I go in and have surgery, the hospital on point. They are so careful. I would encourage them to not be afraid," she added.
If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know
AROUND THE WORLD: CoronavirusNOW.com
Map of known COVID-19 cases:
MOBILE APP USERS: Click here for map