Avera postponing elective surgical procedures

ABERDEEN (Press Release) – Due to the spread of COVID-19 cases, Avera is postponing some elective surgical procedures. Critical procedures needed are still available.

As a result, elective surgical procedures at Avera St. Luke’s and Avera Dakota Plains Surgery Center are being postponed and not canceled. Emergent and critical surgeries will still continue to be performed at Avera St. Luke’s Hospital.

Amultidisciplinary group of Avera physicians developed a surgical case triage protocol that outlines a phased approach to decisions about elective surgeries during the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients whose procedures are postponed are being contacted.

This announcement is in tandem with a recommendation from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today that all elective surgeries, non-essential medical, surgical and dental procedures be delayed during the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

“Our physicians are working to balance patient safety and quality with the resources available. These resources include protective equipment like gowns and masks and intensive care beds,” said Todd Forkel, Regional Vice President and CEO. “We emphasize that we are looking to postpone procedures, rather than cancelling them altogether.”

“The reality is clear and the stakes are high: we need to preserve personal protective equipment for those on the front lines of this fight,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma.

Avera is joining with local, state and federal government and health agencies to stem the surge of COVID-19 cases in the United States, and protect the most vulnerable persons in our population.

“This is an unprecedented situation and we hope our patients understand; we would not be taking these measures unless we felt they were absolutely necessary,” Forkel said.

COVID-19 has become a pandemic, which means the virus will continue to circulate in communities. “Each one of us must do our part to reduce the number of cases. However, we are preparing for a possible surge of patients with this virus, so we need to be ready to care for them and have the materials to care for them,” Forkel said.

Please take these steps to protect yourself and your loved ones:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • If you are sick, limit close contact with others as much as possible.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Practice social distancing by avoiding crowds and limiting physical contact, i.e., shaking hands or hugging.
  • Follow recommendations set by local, state and federal government.

As an Avera patient, if you feel you may have been exposed to COVID-19 or you are displaying symptoms, please call 1-877-AT-AVERA (1-877-282-8372), or your local clinic number.

Symptoms include fever over 100 degrees, cough and shortness of breath. The majority of people who contract the virus will experience mild illness, in fact 80% of people can be treated at home, however there have been severe cases and cases resulting in death.

To learn more, visit Avera.org/COVID-19