Frequently asked questions on scheduled surgeries
How did you decide to proceed with scheduling surgeries?
At HCA Gulf Coast, our strategies have been focused on planning and prepping to safely return to routine patient care services, including procedures and surgeries.
Elective, or scheduled, procedures are not the equivalent of “optional” procedures that can be delayed indefinitely – they are procedures that can be scheduled. Deferring important medical procedures can result in patients unnecessarily suffering at home, and later seeking care only when their conditions have become more serious.
As we continue to monitor the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic, HCA Gulf Coast has begun to thoughtfully re-introduce these elective procedures and surgeries.
How will my experience be different now compared to before COVID-19?
Important precautions implemented in the earliest stages of COVID-19 remain in place across our facilities.
- Limited entrances and clearer directions: We continue to limit the number of entrances into facilities, so you will see enhanced signage throughout, including entrances and exits.
- Screening: Staff screeners are present at either the entrance or the front desk to ask a series of questions to all individuals arriving at the facility, including questions regarding symptoms and travel history.
- Social distancing and visitation: We currently permit one visitor (screened negative and masked) to accompany adult patients during procedures and two visitors (screened negative and masked) for pediatric patients. Common areas such as lobbies have been reconfigured to ensure adequate spacing. We reserve the right to ask visitors to wait outside of the surgery center.
Is it safe to return to your facility? (How can I be sure the room, the X-ray machine, the OR, the recovery room are safe?
Because we deal with infectious diseases on a daily basis, we are uniquely equipped to safely manage coronavirus. Elevated cleaning measures, constant housekeeping, access to alcohol-based hand gel and regular sanitation are all part of our daily routines. We have also added enhanced protections, including universal masking, comprehensive screening, and escorting patients to procedures to reduce risk of exposure. This ensures our ambulatory surgery center is a safe care environment, and all patients, visitors and staff are protected from exposure to infectious diseases like COVID-19.
How can I be confident my doctors and nurses don’t have coronavirus?
The same protections we have in place for our patients are those we have in place for our caregivers.
Staff and physicians are screened for COVID-19 symptoms and tested when necessary, and our clinical care team colleagues are not permitted to work if experiencing any respiratory symptoms. Universal masking is in place, and we are appropriately stocked with personal protective equipment (PPE) for all of our clinical teams.
Am I more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 at a healthcare facility than other locations?
Few settings outside one’s own home have as many protections in place to prevent exposure to COVID-19 as our medical facilities. Our protections ensure everyone inside the building has been screened, those known to have COVID-19 are kept separate, and everyone is instructed to wear a mask and observe social distancing.
Will I be tested for COVID-19 before my procedure? What about the members of my care team?
Our ambulatory surgery center does not require a COVID-19 test to be scheduled for surgery. The decision to test a patient for COVID-19 prior to a surgical procedure is your doctor’s decision, based on multiple factors and standards. Those standards do include testing patients who are scheduled for certain procedures that carry a higher risk of transmission if COVID-19 were present (e.g., lungs or respiratory), as well as patients with symptoms that suggest they may be carrying COVID-19.
Will my family be able to be with me? If so, will they be safe?
Through guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we currently permit one visitor (screened negative and masked) to accompany patients and two visitors (screened negative and masked) for pediatric patients. We reserve the right to ask visitors to wait outside of the surgery center.
We have taken additional strong measures to ensure the safety of all involved, including changes to our waiting areas and communal spaces. Station areas and tables are distanced six feet apart to allow for social distancing, and we have removed public coffee and water stations. Signs will be present to remind everyone to keep their masks on and respect social distancing requirements.
Will my recovery be different? Will I be more likely to catch COVID-19 after a medical procedure?
Your surgeon will discuss the risks and benefits of surgery, including if there is increased risk of contracting COVID-19. It is important that you maintain all precautions the general public are asked to follow. As always, we are here to support you in your recovery, whatever the circumstances.
What if I’m experiencing symptoms similar to COVID-19?
If you are experiencing symptoms such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing, please let your physician know immediately.
If your ambulatory surgery center continues to see an increase in COVID-19 patients, will you change your policies?
We are consistently evaluating our ambulatory surgery center resources, such as personal protective equipment (PPE), and making adjustments to our approach if and when protocols need to evolve. We also are in continuous communication with local healthcare delivery systems, including state and local health officials, and those surgeons who have direct responsibility for their patients. HCA Healthcare facilities will continue to follow Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recommendations as they evolve. Our surgery center will accommodate procedures that physicians determine to be appropriate within those recommendations.
Where can I get more information about COVID-19?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a robust website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. The CDC also houses responses to commonly asked questions on their website. We make every effort to ensure our own website is current, but given the nature of policy updates, it’s always best to call your facility to verify the most up to date information.
*We make every effort to ensure our website information remains up to date. As specific guidelines and policies continue to evolve, please call our facility at (713) 852-1500 for updated information or questions regarding scheduled surgeries.