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What to know about surgery during the pandemic

September 12, 2021 at 12:00 a.m.

The thought of having surgery for a nagging injury, or lingering pain, or even just for a preventative health screening, can make some patients feel uneasy. But, as many experts have said over the last few months, it is extremely important not to neglect medical needs during the pandemic.

At Medical Center of South Arkansas, policies designed to protect patients during their visits include:

- Screening all visitors for COVID-19 exposure and symptoms before they are allowed to enter.

- Visitor restrictions reduce the number of people inside to enable social distancing and keep patients and employees safe.

- Facemasks are worn by everyone inside the hospital – patients, employees and physicians.

- Caregivers are using appropriate personal protective equipment and washing hands before and after caring for every patient.

- Cleaning protocols have been enhanced with extra measures and increased frequency, including disinfection of frequently touched surfaces and all patient care areas.

- Furniture in waiting areas arranged to support social distancing.

"Lingering injuries, pain, and delaying preventative health screenings can lead to long-term health issues if not addressed," said MCSA Chief of Surgery Dr. Anthony Abraham. "I have seen an increase in patients who are experiencing more significant health issues because they delayed care. MCSA has precautions in place to treat all patients who need medical care. I strongly urge people to contact their physician if they have health concerns."

According to the National Cancer Institute, the coronavirus pandemic initially led to sharp decreases in the use of recommended cancer screening tests, including colonoscopies, which could mean that some early cancers may have gone undetected. Screenings like colonoscopies have the potential to detect precancerous lesions and cancers in their earliest stages, when they might be most treatable, and before symptoms appear.

"Delaying surgery for any length of time can sustain unnecessary pain and suffering and sometimes lead to more complicated procedures and reduced quality of life," said Abraham. "Remember, the sooner your surgery is done, the sooner your relief and recovery begin."

Just because a surgery is "elective" doesn't mean it's not important. Elective surgeries can be as small as a mole removal or more serious like a knee replacement.

Surgeries that should not be delayed include but are not limited to: Hip and knee replacements, colonoscopies and preventative health screenings, hernias, appendectomy, gall bladder removals, tonsillectomies, urological procedures, breast cancer surgery and gynecological procedures.

Anthony Abraham, D.O. is a General Surgeon at South Arkansas Surgical Specialists. He can be reached at 870-875-5580.

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