May 7, 2020 – Southeast Georgia Health System resumed elective outpatient
surgeries on May 4; elective inpatient surgeries will resume on May 11.
The services are subject to specific safety guidelines and patients must
test negative for
COVID-19 within four days of their procedure.
“Over the last several weeks, we have developed effective and efficient
operations to manage our COVID-19 patients,” says
Vincent K. Arlauskas, M.D., chief, Department of Surgery. “Those factors, along with COVID-19
cases stabilizing in our region, informed our decision to resume elective
surgeries. This was a data-driven decision made by consulting with several
hospital departments, including: Critical Care, Infectious Disease, Anesthesiology,
Surgery Ob/Gyn, Pathology and Hospital Medicine. We are pleased to offer
surgical care again, and are doing so with our full focus on patient and
On March 18, 2020, the Health System discontinued elective procedures to
prepare for a potential surge of
COVID-19 patients. The move was also deemed necessary to conserve personal protective
equipment (PPE), ventilator capacity, blood supplies, medications and
supplies to prepare for these patients.
COVID-19 situation emerged, the Health System established safety protocols. “We
are screening everyone entering the facility for coronavirus symptoms,” says
Michael D. Scherneck, president & CEO, Southeast Georgia Health System. “In addition,
we require face masks, isolate possible COVID patients from other patients,
limit visitors, actively encourage social distancing and diligently clean
and disinfect our facilities.”
Patients planning to receive elective surgery will be tested for COVID-19
within four days of surgery. If the test result is positive, the surgery
will be rescheduled for a future date. Those with a negative test result
can keep their surgical appointment, but will be screened again for signs
and symptoms of illness prior to their procedure.
The Health System’s ability to continue elective surgeries will depend
on a variety of factors, according to Scherneck. “We have taken
exhaustive measures to ensure that we can offer surgical services safely.
We’re moving in the right direction, but if an increase in
COVID-19 patients necessitates a return to crisis level care, we will temporarily
restrict surgical services again. The entire process is being closely
monitored by medical leadership.”
While acknowledging that COVID-19 requires health care facilities to maintain
extreme vigilance for the foreseeable future, Arlauskas believes the Health
System is up to the challenge. “Patient and staff safety is our
COVID-19 taught us the importance of resilience, flexibility and innovation. In
the long term, I believe we are stronger as a result of the lessons learned.
We appreciate the public’s patience as our Surgical Services teams
roll out this process.”
For more information about Surgical Services at Southeast Georgia Health
System, please visit