NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH)– Surgeries are traditionally sterile environments but during this pandemic more precautions are being taken beyond operating rooms.
“There is a misconception out there that if you go to a hospital that has had COVID patients in it that means that you’re going to catch COVID,” said Dr. Geoff Nadzam, Chief of Surgery at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital.
He says it is easier to catch COVID in the general public than in the hospital where public areas and patient rooms are sanitized and disinfected daily with a deep cleaning done when a patient is discharged.
On Monday surgeries deferred during the pandemic started up again.
“Now that we have opened the doors,” said Dr. Nadzam. “It will be not a light switch but a dimmer switch.”
The hospital plans to operate at a 50 percent capacity for time sensitive surgeries delayed during the past eight weeks. There’s a 500 case backlog so surgeons will be busy and patients will be both tested and screened.
“Screening what we’re going to do is check the temperatures of anybody who comes through our doors at any of our delivery networks,” said Dr. Nadzam.
Patients will also have to put on a face mask and answer a series of questions. If there is concern about COVID, they will be sent home to see their primary care doctor. Before anyone can be admitted or undergo surgery, they have to be tested for COVID-19, which can be done right at the New London hospital.
At that drive through testing site, the patient drives in and the nurse comes out, reaches into the car and takes a nasal swab sample. The patient never has to leave the car and can then drive away.
“We ask that two calendar days before and that visit we also tell them to socially isolate from the time they get tested to their day of surgery,” said Dr. Nadzam.
Routine surgeries are done in different operating rooms than emergency surgeries for COVID patients who are also kept in a separate area of the hospital. Their surgeries are done in negative pressure rooms.
“An operating room that doesn’t allow air to leave the operating room. It gets evacuated out of the operating room,” explained Dr. Nadzam.
Other than for pediatric patients or end of life situations, no visitors are allowed.