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Archive June 2020 XXI, No. 6

Get Ready to Reopen

Restarting elective cases requires new protocols and a whole new way of thinking.

Daniel Cook

Daniel Cook, Editor-in-Chief


HAPPY RETURNS The UConn Health Surgery Center welcomed back its first patients in mid-April, about a month after reserving the ORs for emergent procedures.

It’s been three months since the coronavirus outbreak shuttered outpatient operating rooms across the country, leaving surgical professionals to wonder how long the hiatus would last and what surgery would be like when they returned. They’re about to find out as elective procedures are beginning to resume in communities where COVID-19 cases are on the decline.

Reopening a facility is more involved than switching on the surgical lights and firing up the autoclave. It demands a slow build back to relative normalcy due to local health department restrictions and the practicality of performing surgery under new policies and procedures that have disrupted well-honed routines.

When Florida’s governor reopened parts of the state in early May, Nikki Williams, RN, CNOR, began to plan a soft opening of the Lakeland (Fla.) Surgical & Diagnostic Center (LSDC). She spent five long days and late nights huddling with the facility’s clinical leaders to develop reopening protocols.

“It’s a fluid policy that we alter almost daily in response to the changing circumstances associated with the virus,” says Ms. Williams, the center’s clinical director. “Flexibility has been key.”

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