Thirty years ago, if you were scheduled for a surgery you could pretty much count on staying in the hospital at least one night, and probably more.
How times change. Today, more than 60 percent of all surgeries are considered “outpatient” procedures, meaning patients report in the morning, have their surgery and are resting at home later that day.
As medical technology continues to advance, and healthcare providers continue to seek ways to reduce the cost of care, the shift to outpatient procedures will continue.
One result of the growth in outpatient surgeries is an increase in privately owned, freestanding surgery centers. In The Dalles, the opening of such a center means area patients now have two options for outpatient surgeries.
At MCMC, the surgery department has had years of experience performing outpatient procedures, many of which only recently required overnight hospitalization.
The result is the development of a Same Day Surgery department that, while based within the hospital, offers advantages a freestanding center simply can’t.
One of the most obvious, says surgeon Ann Harris, M.D, F.A.C.S., of Mid-Columbia Surgical Associates, is the Same Day Surgery department’s location within MCMC.
While freestanding centers typically claim convenience as a major benefit, even same day surgery patients often feel more secure knowing, if they should need more attention during a procedure, the comprehensive resources of a hospital are just seconds away.
“I think one big advantage of performing outpatient surgeries in the hospital is, if patients have any concerns, they have the option of being watched overnight or for more than a couple of hours,” Dr. Harris says. “In a freestanding center, there isn’t an option to stay.”
Dr. Harris adds that a hospital offers all the technology and personnel needed to respond immediately to a patient’s unanticipated needs.
“Although most outpatient procedures take place without difficulty, if something unexpected should occur, we can handle that quickly and efficiently here,” she says. “The patient doesn’t have to be transferred anywhere.”
MCMC’s director of surgical services Dick Ohnemus, R.N., adds staff experience to the list of his department’s benefits.
“We offer an experienced rapid response team that has been trained to quickly handle any complication, in the unlikely event one should occur,” Ohnemus says.
Dr. Harris agrees that MCMC’s surgery staff makes all the difference.
“Hospital surgical personnel are used to dealing with very complicated procedures,” she says. “When they are assigned a more common outpatient surgery, they bring a very high degree of talent and proficiency to the job.”
MCMC has had many years to adjust to the shift to outpatient procedures, and as a result has created a patient-focused surgical experience that emphasizes education and feels decidedly “un-hospital-like.”
Prior to the day of surgery, patients meet with a nurse for a one-on-one interview to determine special needs, likes and dislikes and to complete necessary forms.
“Then when they come in the day of the surgery, the focus is on them and not paperwork,” Ohnemus says.
A nurse is assigned to each patient as he or she arrives in the morning. The nurse stays in close contact with the patient throughout the day, becoming a familiar face who can answer questions, see to any needs and develop a rapport to make the patient more comfortable.
“That goes back to our Planetree philosophy of offering a very individualized experience for patients all the way through their stay,” Ohnemus says.
The personalized approach certainly made an impression on John Bosley, better known to his friends as Johnny B.
Bosley became very familiar with MCMC’s Same Day Surgery experience during separate gall bladder and hernia surgeries. He says staff went out of their way each time to make sure he was as comfortable as possible.
“They were just real good people, professional, cheerful – they put you at ease right off the bat,” he says. “I had a real strong, easy feeling that everything was going to come out all right.”
Bosley says both surgeries took only about 45 minutes each, and he left the hospital after only four hours, but not before he felt ready to go. In addition to the MCMC Same Day Surgery staff, he had nothing by praise for his surgeon, Dr. Harris.
“You could just tell by the way she talked she really knew what she was doing,” Bosley says. “I figured ‘Why should I worry? She’s not’. ”
Dr. Harris says same day procedures are appropriate for a wide range, and ever-growing list of common surgeries. And MCMC, she adds, offer an outstanding, highly personalized experience, in the safest setting possible.