Traumatic injuries and chronic conditions requiring orthopedic interventions couldn’t simply wait out the storm brought on by COVID-19.
Knowing that important care is “top priority” for these patients, Michael Day, MD, an orthopedic surgeon, and his team at WellSpan Orthopedics in Chambersburg reimagined their approach through telemedicine and installed a new safety plan for office visits.
“The key for all industries including ours is adaptability,” said Day.
Some traumatic injuries often are not serious enough to require hospitalization, he said. Those injuries do need immediate care in a time sensitive manner, however. Prompt evaluation means a better outcome.
Day adapted by performing dozens of video visits over the past few months to allow patients the option to stay home through COVID-19 restrictions.
Meanwhile, the WellSpan Orthopedics location in Chambersburg looks and performs a little differently these days.
Patient safety comes first
WellSpan Orthopedics, and all WellSpan locations, has developed and implemented guidelines to keep patients and staff safe in their offices. Those guidelines require staff and patients to wear masks in the office, and get mandatory screenings at the entrances of every building.
WellSpan makes every attempt to minimize time patients spend in the waiting room. While they are waiting, protocols are in place. Chairs are placed six feet apart, and patients are roomed shortly after checking in. Patients also have the option to wait in their cars instead of in a waiting room.
Services are in place to help patients who might otherwise have started their care journey in an emergency room. By routing patients with urgent orthopedic needs to the office, it reduced traffic and volume at other locations.
Quality orthopedic care continues through COVID-19
Shippensburg resident Stephen Wilkinson did visit the ER for an injury he sustained to his knee. He then experienced quality office care followed by a successful surgery performed by Day during the pandemic.
Wilkinson called WellSpan Orthopedics the morning of May 16. He was seen in the office that same afternoon.
“They heard my sense of urgency and pain,” said Wilkinson.
His office visit led to getting an MRI that verified the source of his pain. That led to surgery to repair his right knee meniscus a few days later at WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital.
“The surgical prep team was awesome. They were efficient, knowledgeable, caring and made me feel very comfortable prior to surgery. Dr. Day’s staff and the hospital staff did an outstanding job.”
Wilkinson returned to WellSpan Orthopedics on June 3 for his first post-op visit and continues to recover from surgery.
“I find it very rewarding to see a patient return to function and resume the activities they enjoy,” Day said.
Acclimating to moratorium on some surgeries, local sports
While patients may be experiencing a different health care atmosphere, things have also changed for providers including Day.
The sports medicine side of his practice changed once spring sports were cancelled due to COVID-19. It is still uncertain whether Day and his team will be roaming the sidelines of fall sporting events.
Sports is a big part of Day’s practice and there have been fewer sports-related injuries In recent months. Day been focusing more on general orthopedics through the interim.
COVID-19 restrictions also postponed all elective surgeries for a period of time. WellSpan Health continues to thoughtfully plan a regional, phased approach which has already led to resuming many services that patients need.
Pre-op procedure now includes routine testing for COVID-19. Chhambersburg and Waynesboro Hospitals have other rigorous precautions in place to maintain a safe environment.