Patients get ready as elective surgeries set to resume in Arizona following COVID-19 pause

Starting on Friday, elective surgeries will be able to resume in Arizona.

Gov. Doug Ducey made the announcement on resuming elective surgeries on April 22, during a news conference. In a separate statement released to media outlets during the news conference, officials with the Governor's Office say hospitals, dental offices, and other health facilities can resume elective surgeries if they can demonstrate that they have implemented measures that can keep health care workers and patients safe, including:

  • Demonstrating a supply of personal protective equipment that can last more than 14 days
  • Adequate staffing and beds
  • Testing patients prior to surgery and all at-risk health care workers
  • Ensuring appropriate discharger plans for patients being transferred to nursing care facilities, including COVID-19 diagnostic testing
  • Implementing universal symptom screening process for staff, patients and visitors
  • Establishing enhanced cleaning process for waiting areas
  • Prioritizing the restart of elective surgeries, based on urgency

Facilities that meet the standards will need to receive approval from the Arizona Department of Health Services before resuming those surgeries.

Patients, doctors react

For one Valley woman battling breast cancer, the resumption of elective surgeries can't come soon enough.

Jamie Sabanos got the breast cancer diagnosis during the pandemic.

"Especially at that time, not knowing what the future is going to hold. Are we going to be back in June? Is it going to be until July? It’s concerning, and it’s certainly not good for your mental health," said Sabanos.

Sabanos was diagnosed in March.

"I had went to three different centers, and no one was doing surgery because of COVID-19, and kind of postponing patients and considering cancer elective surgery," said Sabanos.

From the biopsy, she was told it looked to be one of the most treatable breast cancers, but doctors won’t know exactly until she gets surgery.

"We were right in the beginning phases of what to expect with, so no. there really was no 'let’s put you on for June,' because there was no plan for what was going to happen," said Dr. Patricia Clark.

Dr. Clark, who is a breast surgeon in Scottsdale had to reschedule most of her patients due to the guidelines of the main surgical societies and the Governor’s order.

"We had some diagnostic issues, where we would have these precancerous legions or very low-grade cancers. Those are elective cases. I can probably push them off three to six months without changing this person’s outcome," said Dr. Clark.

Dr. Clark has all the equipment she needs, and she is also giving test kits to her patients before they come in for surgery.

As for Sabanos, she is scheduled for her surgery with Dr. Clark Friday morning.

"This week has been much better, just knowing that it will be addressed. We’ll have all the pieces of the puzzle, in the sense that we can give it a stage and move forward on proper treatment," said Sabanos.

"I’m going to be happy it is over, and I am very grateful that I will have Dr. [David] Rizik and Riley during this," said Barbara Galecki, who is getting a mitral valve repair

"I think this is the type of case during the pandemic when we are concerned about the scarcity of resources, and resource utilization that we put this case on hold because it is not an emergency. It is an elective procedure, but it is appropriate now that elective procedures are scheduled to get her to have this procedure done," said Dr. Rizik.

Honor Health officials say all elective surgery patients will be in isolated beds, or units away from all COVID-19 patients. Time in the hospital will be limited, with patients coming in for pre-advanced testing as well as COVID-19 testing.

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) - How it spreads, symptoms, prevention, treatment, FAQ (In Spanish/En Español)

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