For 50 years, ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs)—freestanding, fully licensed facilities for outpatient surgeries—have provided an alternative to hospital-based surgery in the United States. Now, with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and many people still concerned about getting the virus, the inherent safety advantages of ASCs over hospitals have helped them become an even more important part of the health care landscape.
Small and Specialized
Women who need to have elective gynecological surgery but are concerned about COVID-19 can confidently move forward with it at an ASC like those used by The Center for Innovative GYN Care. Among the reasons:
- ASCs perform only outpatient surgery. An outpatient procedure is one that can be performed in a few hours or less (thus requiring less time under anesthesia) and allows patients to return home the same day.
- As is the case with CIGC’s GYN-only surgical practice, ASCs usually only treat patients in one or perhaps a few specialty areas (orthopedics or urology, for example) whereas hospitals have among their varied cases patients who already have COVID-19.
- ASCs treat far fewer patients in a day and have fewer staff members in the rooms, so there is less risk of being exposed to someone who is asymptomatic (not showing symptoms) yet still capable of transmitting the virus.
- ASCs have a smaller footprint than hospitals, which makes them easier to sanitize and control for safety measures such as personal protective equipment for surgical staff, mask wearing and proper distancing, screening patients and staff for cold and flu-like symptoms and more.
- ASCs follow the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, state departments of health and leading medical associations.
Getting care at an ASC during the pandemic can also be a woman’s safest option because it will likely be her fastest option.
Many hospitals are still trying to catch up on elective surgeries that were canceled during pandemic shutdowns, and the wait to be rescheduled can be long. Prompt care during COVID-19 and a transfer of cases from hospitals to ASCs was recommended by the American College of Surgeons and the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists.
A woman who has fibroids, endometriosis or another GYN condition must not only deal with aggravating symptoms longer, but she also risks her untreated condition getting worse. In just one example, fibroids that grow unchecked can become large enough to cause dangerous bleeding, kidney damage, miscarriage and more.
Today, nearly 6,000 ASCs perform about 35% of all surgeries. And their role in providing safe, rapid care will only continue to expand.
Searching for a safe way to have GYN surgery during COVID-19? Talk to a CIGC patient advocate today.
Paul J. MacKoul, M.D.
Laparoscopic surgery specialist Dr. Paul MacKoul is co-founder of The Center for Innovative GYN Care and CEO of Tower of Surgical Partners, a GYN ASC management company headquartered in Rockville, Maryland.