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Surgical Procedures and COVID-19: A Guide for Patients

Safely Caring for You

Surgical Procedures and COVID-19: A Guide for Patients

As we return to offering elective surgeries and procedures after the COVID-19 related postponements, we want you to know we are fully prepared and equipped to conduct elective surgeries and procedures while also maintaining our readiness for a COVID-19 related surge.

We are following evidence-based best practices as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) for COVID-specific cleaning, disinfection, training, infection prevention, and care standards.

Our provider and care teams have implemented significant safety measures to be able to deliver high quality and safe in-person care throughout our facilities to all those who need it during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you need surgical services.

Scheduling

If you were scheduled for a procedure that was postponed due to COVID-19, your care team will be in contact with you about rescheduling. We are doing our best to schedule all delayed procedures as quickly as possible, prioritizing the most urgent cases first.

Due to the extra time needed for many of our safety considerations for surgery, it will take us longer to prep rooms and we will not be able to resume scheduling at full capacity for the time being. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work to safely resume procedures and schedule everyone who is in need of these services.

Pre-Operative Testing

Pre-operative COVID-19 testing is a requirement of Minnesota's Written Plan for resuming elective surgeries and procedures.

Most patients will be swabbed for the COVID-19 test at their pre-operative History & Physical Exam as long as the exam falls within the prescribed timeframe for testing. If not, a separate testing time will be set.

You will be instructed to self-isolate from the time the COVID-19 swab is collected until the time of your procedure.

A negative test result must be received prior to the start of your procedure.

If you test positive for COVID-19, we will work with you to determine when and if your surgery or procedure can be performed. Surgeries necessary for COVID positive patients will be conducted in a COVID-specialty area of the Fergus Falls location at Lake Region Healthcare. This area has been segregated both in terms of the physical space and the air-handling systems for safety. This will allow the other surgical spaces in Fergus Falls, Elbow Lake and Morris to remain COVID-managed to the best of our ability.

What to Expect

No visitors are allowed in our facilities. Please plan for your family or support person to communicate with you via phone or other electronic means during your stay and to coordinate pick up times.

You will be required to wear a mask upon arriving at our facilities.

Social distancing within our buildings is required and is critical to our ability to continue offering services.

Expect to complete a screening questionnaire multiple times before having your surgery or procedure. While repetitive, please remember it is ultimately for your safety.

The informed consent process during your surgical preparation will include the traditional risks as well as the COVID related risks associated with your time in our facility.

We will practice intentional separation of patients and staff. For example, staff who care for COVID patients will not be assigned to care for non-COVID patients.

Additional Safety Measures

Here are just some of the ways we have implemented new protocols to ensure we can safely care for you:

  • Increased lab testing capabilities, including drive-up testing
  • Real-time tracking of personal protective equipment (PPE) and local partnerships to meet PPE shortages such as surgical gowns, face shields and hand sanitizer
  • Virtual appointments to offer visits with nearly all care providers on a tablet, phone or computer
  • The creation of a respiratory assessment clinic in Fergus Falls, Morris, and Elbow Lake, as well as creating separation in emergency departments and other units to protect patients
  • Restriction of all visitors
  • Screening of all patients, vendors, couriers, delivery-persons before they enter any facility
  • Social distancing practices in all lobbies, including Plexiglas shields between check-in staff and patients
  • Everyone wears a mask:
    • patient-facing staff wears a mask and face shield
    • non patient-facing staff and all patients are provided with cloth masks
  • Screening of all employees including temperature checks before each work shift
  • Enhancement of already rigorous cleaning practices

If the community COVID-19 status changes or concerns about maintaining adequate resources arise, our ability to conduct elective cases may need to be adjusted. We will keep you informed of any changes and we thank you again for your patience and confidence in us as we move forward to safely care for you and your surgical needs.