Orthopedic ASC operations during COVID-19 & beyond: One center's plan

Sami Spencer, CEO of Missoula (Mont.) Bone & Joint Surgery Center, discusses how the coronavirus is affecting operations and her plans to ramp surgery back up in the future.

Question: Does your ASC have any plans to partner with health systems to support the COVID-19 response? If so, what are you planning?

Sami Spencer: Since we are an orthopedic ASC, we are doing any urgent or time sensitive surgeries only. We have been in communication with one of our local hospitals and have offered to help with any needed overflow cases that we can. Our limiting factor is to do non-orthopedic cases we would need the equipment and trained staff.

Q: What are your top priorities today during the pandemic?

SS: Patient, provider and staff safety are No. 1 so we are using all safety precautions including screening of all patients and guests and masks are required.

Q: What are your plans to ramp up your surgical schedule again after the pandemic?

SS: We plan to start with patients that are suffering. The majority of orthopedic cases may be elective but many of these patients are in pain or have their quality of life severely affected. We are going on three weeks of no elective cases.

Q: What is your biggest concern during the ramp up?

SS: Since we have had to lay staff off we are concerned because we have lost some good people and may have trouble getting back to full staff. The other big concern is the timing of when to ramp back up safely.

Q: Where do you see the big opportunities to continue growing and evolving your center over the next 12 to 24 months?

SS: We had just started performing and ramping up with outpatient total joints and spine being only a couple of months into it when we shut down elective cases so we look forward to this growth.

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