‘We may never be completely caught back up’: Roanoke doctor doing his best to perform surgeries delayed due to pandemic

Coronavirus

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Like many doctors around the world, one Roanoke doctor is working hard to catch up on surgeries that were delayed for months due to the coronavirus. However, this local doctor does not see an end in sight.

Dr. Trevor Owen — a trauma and joint replacement specialist at the Carilion Clinic Institute for Orthopedics and Neurosciences — says despite being able to resume elective procedures in June, his department is behind in hundreds of elective surgeries.

Dr. Owen specializes in hip and joint replacements, as well as broken bone repairs. However, those kind of surgeries were put on hold for more than three months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Dr. Owen, he knows it was difficult to delay care for his patients.

“These are people who have problems. They hurt,” he said. “They really do need their joint replaced, etc. It was hard to tell them, ‘No, I’m sorry. I can’t do your surgery right now and I don’t know when. To some degree, we may never be completely caught back up.”

Dr. Owen says because of the high volume of patients currently, he treats five to 10 more patients than he did before the pandemic. The most he visited in one day is 35.

In addition, in an attempt to gain ground, the clinic extended its hours from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the week and offered availability on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. However, starting in August, the clinic will return to its normal hours of operation during the week — 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. — but will keep Saturday clinics open for the time being.

There are also several new rules in place for patients:

  • After scheduling their surgeries, they must go into isolation for three days and then get tested for the coronavirus leading up to the date of their procedures.
  • If they test negative for the virus, they can proceed with their surgeries.
  • If the test positive, they must quarantine for days, reschedule their surgeries, and repeat the process.

One thing Dr. Owen is relying on is telehealth, especially for out-of-state patients, including those he treats regularly from West Virginia and Tennessee.

Now that people can get the care they need, Dr. Owen does not want people to hold off any longer.

“We don’t want anybody to put off something that needs to be done,” he said. “It could potentially lead to something worse down the road.”

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