Minnesota patients relieved to have elective surgeries again

Minnesota health care workers were able to perform elective surgeries again this week, providing relief to many patients.

Judy Cunningham is recovering from a hip replacement surgery at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids.

“I want to get back up walking. I am looking forward to it,” she said.

Judy originally had her surgery scheduled April 9, but it was postponed because of pandemic restrictions that shelved elective procedures. The delay was a painful one, as her hip continued to deteriorate.

So, when she had the chance to be one of the first patients back in the Mercy operating room, she went through the required COVID-19 testing and isolation orders last week - along with a physical - to be ready. Her husband Mike drove her to the hospital early Monday morning, but then left her because of new health and safety policies for patient guests that are now in place.

“It’s been a whirlwind. Mike dropped me off at the door and had to leave. He couldn’t stay. It’s kinda hard, but I understand that,” she said.

Judy also noticed the extra sanitizing that is taking place inside the hospital, from her arrival all the way to her physical therapy appointments.

“They wipe everything down - the check-in, if you use the pen, they wipe the pen down. The counter is wiped down. Every time they do something, they wipe it down completely… I feel real safe. They’re being very cautious.”

“That’s the level we are shooting for everywhere, to make sure there is absolutely no chance anyone gets exposed to the COVID-19 virus,” said Dr. Robert Quickel, Vice President of Medical Operations-Surgery at Allina Health.

In addition to FaceTime, Judy is sharing updates with family over social media, including how eerily quiet her portion of the hospital seems right now.

Allina administrators report potential COVID-19 positive patients are receiving care in other areas of the facility, away from surgical units at all of its hospitals.

They had a message Tuesday for anxious patients who may be worried about the spread of the disease.

“I would emphasize it is very safe to come into the hospital and come into the procedural centers and have surgery,” Dr. Quickel said. "We do a lot of testing and screening of staff and patients to make sure it stays safe for everyone.” 

Allina estimates more than 8,000 procedures were postponed during the shut-down order. They were averaging about 1,500 per week. They hope to get close to half that number this week.