Metro hospital systems discuss safety procedures for pediatric surgery during coronavirus pandemic

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – In the peak of Oklahoma’s COVID-19 pandemic, elective surgeries were postponed but children’s surgeons were still working hard.

One local hospital system says more than 40% of its pediatric surgeries are urgent. 

At OU Children’s, surgeons say between trauma surgeries or urgent procedures for things like appendicitis, they’ve stayed busy.

“We’ve been here for them 24/7 as usual,” said Dr. Catherine Hunter at OU Children’s Hospital. 

While adults at many hospitals are dropped off at the door due to COVID-19 restrictions, Dr. Catherine Hunter says Children’s is allowing one visitor per patient.

“That relationship with that parent or guardian is absolutely paramount to their comfort and also their ability to navigate through something like having a surgery,” said Hunter. 

Staff has been divided into teams and doing virtual meetings for social distancing as well as using enhanced PPE.  

Patients are screened for COVID-19 prior to surgeries at OU Children’s as well as St. Anthony SSM Health.

“Then they’re going to be quarantined at home until the time they come to the hospital,” said Dr. Chris Regier at SSM Health St. Anthony. 

At SSM Health, anyone who enters the hospital has their temperature taken and is asked questions about if they’ve been around anyone who is sick or recently traveled – all to make ensure everyone will feel safe getting the care they need.

“If you delay care there’s going to be worse consequences than worrying about the virus,” Reiger said. 

At both systems, masks are used for the safety of all.

“We’ve done very well as a state but now is not the time to let our guards down,” said Hunter. “So don’t be embarrassed by wearing the mask. Don’t be frustrated. Let’s just be safe.”

INTEGRIS says they’re working to protect their young patients too. 

“INTEGRIS Children’s at Baptist Medical Center has a comprehensive plan to keep children, their families and caregivers safe during surgical procedures,” said Ruth Crawford, INTEGRIS Children’s Administrative Nursing director. “Any child having a surgery or being admitted to the hospital is screened for COVID-19 and all caregivers wear appropriate PPE to protect the child and themselves. In addition, the child and accompanying parent are given masks to wear.”

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