Elective Surgeries Start to Resume at UConn Health

One of the first patients this week to have an elective surgical procedure at the UConn Health Surgery Center is Torrington Wagner, 21 of Florida, who is a UConn student and member of the University’s diving team (Photo by UConn Health/Karen Curley).

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic May 13 was a special milestone for UConn Health with some elective low-risk surgical procedures beginning to resume at the UConn Health Surgery Center.

“It’s a big day,” shared Caryl Ryan, MSN, RN, chief nursing officer at UConn Health. “The reopening of our Surgery Center for elective surgical procedures is the startup phase of our clinical services and operating rooms.”

Ryan added: “This signals we are turning a page to move forward – very slow and steady – and the beginning of redeploying some staff from UConn John Dempsey Hospital back to the ORs and other clinical service areas.”

On May 13 some low-risk elective surgeries started to resume on UConn Health’s Lower Campus at its outpatient Surgery Center (UConn Health Photo/Janine Gelineau).

On Wednesday, two out of five operating rooms at the Surgery Center located on UConn Health’s Lower Campus were reopened. Staff cared for 8 surgical outpatients having elective procedures for pain injections and orthopedic shoulder and wrist surgeries with the majority of patients needing only a local anesthetic. The past few months the Surgery Center has only been used for necessary urgent surgeries.

Additional rooms at the Surgery Center are planned to be operational starting on Monday, May 18.

“The first day went well,” shared Karen Curley, RN, nursing director of procedural services at UConn Health. “Our patients have been in very good spirits.”

One of those patients having elective surgery this week with Dr. Robert Arciero, orthopedic surgeon and chief of sports medicine at UConn Health, is Torrington Wagner, 21, a UConn student from Florida who is a member of the University’s diving team.

“I suffered a shoulder injury in November mid-season and learned I needed shoulder surgery just after Spring Break. But my surgery was delayed due to COVID,” shared Wagner. “I’m very excited to finally have my surgery at UConn Health and it looks like I will be able to compete next year.”

At least 48 hours prior to surgery each patient is being COVID-19 tested. When they arrive outside the UConn Health Surgery Center they are given a surgical mask to wear, temperature screened, and screened for other COVID-19 symptoms and risks. Additionally, patient arrivals are being staggered to observe social distancing needs and limit time spent in waiting rooms. Also, no visitors are currently permitted inside the Surgery Center to accompany each patient and patients are discharged with instructions outside at the car awaiting to take them home.

Ryan added: “There is a silver lining to COVID-19’s changing impact. Everyone at UConn Health has stepped up to the challenge. Nursing staff and providers have really responded magnificently day in and day out. We are so proud.”

UConn Health CEO Dr. Andy Agwunobi strongly agrees.

“My thanks to all the staff and everyone involved in making this happen safely for employees and patients,” shared Dr. Andy Agwunobi, CEO of UConn Health. “It’s been amazing to see what the UConn Health family can accomplish during these unprecedented times.”