Twin Cities Orthopedics to test patients and staff for COVID-19 before surgeries

Twin Cities Orthopedic is going to test all of its patients for COVID-19 before surgeries.

Hospitals across the state are preparing for elective surgeries to resume on Monday, which means a whole new set of rules and practices to patients and employees safe amid the pandemic.

At Twin Cities Orthopedics, one of its new safety measures is testing patients and staff for COVID-19 before surgeries. Dr. Owen O’Neill, a TCO orthopedic surgeon, says TCO is scheduled to complete about 2,000 tests a week.

“We test 48 hours before their operation, so 48 hours ahead of time," said O'Neill. "It takes less than 24 hours to get the test back, but we want the patients to know they’re going ahead with their surgery."

While patients will get back to elective surgeries on Monday, this is a plan TCO has been working on for a while.

“We started thinking of this weeks ago, we partnered with a local lab that’s been around 20 years, but we partnered with them knowing we could provide this type of testing,” said O’Neill.

That partner is OralDNA labs in Eden Prairie. They’ve come up with a COVID-19 test that’s collected with an oral rinse and nasal swab, which provides a quick answer.

“So if we can make our test results available in roughly one to two days then the surgeons here at Twin Cities Orthopedics can proceed to take that patient and do that procedure they were appointed for,” said Dr. Ron McGlennen, the president and medical director of OralDNA Labs.

TCO leaders say they’re now working to get some 4,000 surgeries rescheduled.

“We’re phasing them in, so the first two weeks would be risk stratification, so the lower risk patients and then as we can bring more folks in and we know the environment is stable and it’s safe for patients, we can bring those other patients in,” said O’Neill.

Those who work in the operating rooms are happy to get back to their patients and know their health is in good standing too.

“Very excited, we were very excited,” said Stevie Ihry, the operating room nurse manager at TCO. “We have a long list of patients ready to get help and we’re ready we’re ready for it.”

So far, TCO has tested 600 employees and some patients. All tests have come back negative. They said they’ll be ready to continue testing as long as needed.