On Friday, the Florida governor ordered all hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers to cease all elective surgeries due to COVID-19, leaving surgery centers like ours to decide which procedures are considered an emergency. Making these decisions are not easy for our physicians. Each decision is painstaking, having to determine the medical necessity of each procedure on a case-by-case basis.
COVID-19, the new invisible disease, arises in addition to another daily invisible disease – Colon Cancer. March is colon cancer awareness month and although this fight is understandably taking a back seat in its importance, it is still a very real killer.
Earlier this week, a 37-year-old woman began showing somewhat benign symptoms of possible rectal cancer. Feeling that overlooking her symptoms and delaying a colonoscopy could mean dire consequences, our physician performed the procedure. Upon completion, our physician diagnosed her with rectal cancer. If our center were not open to proceed with her procedure, it may have been months before she had her colonoscopy, drastically changing her life story.
Colon Cancer Kills Too
Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death among men and women combined in the U.S. There will be an estimated 147,950 new cases of colorectal cancer in 2020. 1 in 20 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer. 1 in 3 people are not up-to-date with colorectal cancer screening.
Symptoms of colorectal cancer may include:
- A persistent change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool
- Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
- Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
- A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely
- Weakness or fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
If you believe you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it’s important for you to schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist immediately.
How Our Center is Protecting Patients from COVID-19
Our staff continues to be diligent in keeping patients safe during this pandemic. Our center has implemented the following standards:
- Prescreening Patients via the phone and text message
- Screening our staff
- Asking all patient caregivers to wait outside
- Reassessing our patients and taking their temperatures upon entering our facility
- Social distancing our patients in our pre/post procedure area
- Wiping down our facility twice a day or more per the recommended CDC guidelines
- Wearing N-95 masks per recommended NETEC and CDC guidelines
Yes, procedure numbers are approximately a quarter of our usual caseload, yet we continue to play a vital role in our community as we abide by local/state health department guidelines while readying ourselves to assist however we can. We remain connected with the local police and fire marshal, assuring them of our support as they are truly on the frontlines of this pandemic. We have also reached out to a local nursing home, where one of our staff members works aside from our center, providing an encouraging note and a prepackaged goodie for their patients if their diet permits. In continuing to give, we all feel truly blessed.