Are Ambulatory Surgery Centers Safer During COVID?

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Hospital intensive care unit area with beds equipment. Health center

By Dr. Matt Apel

The rapid spread of Coronavirus is causing many people to shy away from needed treatments and procedures in hospital settings. Ambulatory Surgery Centers, like Blossom Bariatrics, offer a solution. These privately staffed clinics are equipped to provide expert medical attention insulated from the risk of Covid-19.

What is an Ambulatory Surgery Center?

The first ambulatory surgery centers opened in the 1970s. Before that time, surgical procedures were relegated to hospital settings. Today, patients undergoing elective surgery have the option of scheduling surgery in a hospital or private clinic with specialized medical staff.

Our ambulatory surgery center, for example, specializes in bariatric procedures. The traditional route to bariatric surgery begins with insurance companies who contract with particular hospitals, but our CEO at Blossom Bariatrics, Dr. Thomas Umbach, had a different vision. His dream was to open a clinic where surgeons could offer personalized and specific medical care.

We opened Warm Springs Surgical Center in 2014 with the goal being to offer 100 percent outpatient surgery. Today, our clinic does not contract with any hospitals.

Ambulatory surgery centers offer separation from Covid patients

Hospitals are doing their very best to take precautions against the spread of Covid-19, but they still care for Covid patients on the floors, in the ER, and in the ICU. According to a recent study from the National Center for Biotechnology  (NCBI), there is a significant transfer of viruses from rooms with COVID-19 patients to hospital corridors. Hospitals’ ventilation systems are linked to the viral spread of the airborne virus.

There are no patients being treated for Coronavirus at Ambulatory Surgery Centers, so our clients are far less likely to be exposed to Covid-19. A smaller, closed system means less risk. 

At our ambulatory surgery center, we control every step of the patient process, enabling us to maximize safety. For example, we are able to postpone a procedure if a client is feeling even the slightest bit under the weather. Where ambulatory surgery centers like Blossom can afford to go the extra mile to keep our clients safe, hospitals have less monetary wiggle room.

Ambulatory surgery centers offer specialized staff not exposed to Covid-19

Hospital patients are treated by a nursing staff involved with all types of procedures in various parts of the building. Unfortunately, many of these health workers are exposed to the Coronavirus daily.  

Because employees of an ambulatory surgery center only work in one clinic, it is easier to screen patients and employees. This dedicated screening eliminates almost all risk of exposure but is challenging to accomplish in more extensive systems such as hospitals.

At our ambulatory surgery center, clients receive care exclusively from our private and fully screened staff. Our chauffeurs meet clients at McCarran airport and shuttle them to and from every appointment. The surgeons and medical assistance at Blossom interact only with our bariatric patients. Blossom Aid visits clients right in their hotel rooms the evening after surgery. The smaller group of employees at ambulatory surgery centers allows for greater attention to detail and higher accountability in screening. 

Ambulatory surgery centers aren’t forced to prioritize based on Covid-19 demands

The patients struggling with Covid-19 and those seeking testing are filling hospitals and clinics to capacity. Additionally, as a result of treating these patients, health care workers and their families often become infected themselves. Increased patient load and staff shortages are straining hospital resources to the point that they must make decisions on which patients are most in need of care.

Elective surgeries are being canceled in hospitals to make room for patients with Covid, but prioritizing based on the demands of Covid-19 is not an issue at ambulatory surgery centers such as Blossom Bariatrics. At Blossom, we only specialize in one thing. This means bariatric patients can be our top priority.

Blossom is the largest private bariatric surgery clinic and surgery center in the entire country, but we treat every client as if they are the only person at the center that day. This individual care starts the moment our clients land in Las Vegas and meet their private chauffeurs at baggage claim. Each client receives VIP attention from the moment they land until the moment they depart.

Hospitals provide quality care, but scheduling delays and limited operating room capacity can be frustrating for patients undergoing elective surgery. Ambulatory surgery centers, like Blossom Bariatrics, provide a safe and flexible alternative to hospitals for patients undergoing elective surgery. Specializing in one area of medical expertise and maintaining a small, private staff allow these clinics to offer greater comfort and peace of mind during the pandemic.

Matthew E. Apel, MD, FACS, FASMBS completed his residency in General Surgery at the University of Arizona. He then joined the Division of General Surgery/Section of Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery at The University of Arizona as a Clinical Fellow. He is also certified in using the robotic da Vinci Surgical System as a Console Surgeon. Dr. Apel’s passion for bariatric surgery is rooted in his desire to help patients not only improve—or resolve—many of their medical conditions, but also boost their self-esteem, quality of life, and overall happiness.

Blossom Bariatrics offers many different types of weight loss surgery, including a trademarked, patented Safe Sleeve procedure. Patients from all over the world travel to their state-of-the-art surgical center located in Las Vegas, Nevada. Blossom Bariatrics has award-winning surgeons and staff who offer procedures such as gastric sleeve, hernia repair, gastric revision, and single anastomosis duodenal switch (SIPS). They are all dedicated to keeping their patients informed and comfortable while offering an exceptional experience unlike anything else in the medical field.