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nEWS REPORT
 







 

 

Saturday Surgeries


For the first time in as long as anyone can remember, elective surgery is done on Saturday.

It was 7:45 on the morning of Dec. 3, and in the GOR’s Room 11, the first of three elective thoracic cases was just getting started. That may not sound remarkable, but it was, because Dec. 3 was a Saturday.

For the first time in as long as anyone can remember, surgeons at Hopkins Hospital are performing elective surgery on Saturdays. Why? “Because our surgical volumes continue to grow,” explains John Hundt, Surgery administrator. “Until the new clinical buildings open and more operating rooms become available, working on Saturdays is one way to accommodate that growth.”

Saturday hours also maximize available resources, Hundt adds. “Each operating room contains equipment worth over $1 million. Why use an OR for just 44 hours a week for elective surgery when we can make better use of our expensive assets?”

After a modest beginning on that third day in December, with just one operating room and one service, the Saturday schedule has grown more robust and soon will involve four ORs and services like neurosurgery, pediatric and adult urology, and pediatric orthopedics.

Of course, on weekends, specialty teams have always been in place to handle trauma cases, transplants and other types of emergencies that arise when patients are seriously ill. Two ORs are reserved for whatever comes through the door.

The addition of four more, Hundt notes, “will have a big impact on a lot of people.” Each OR team typically consists of an attending surgeon and anesthesiologist, a couple of residents, a scrub nurse, circulating nurse, and a handful of support staff like anesthesia techs, equipment specialists and OR associates. Add to that ancillary staff in admissions and recovery, as well as in areas like radiology, pathology, pharmacy and patient transport, and you have several dozen people, all touched by just one case.

Initially, to staff the Saturday schedule, Brenda Nack, GOR nursing coordinator, used volunteers. “We knew that couldn’t last,” she says. “After all,” says Hundt, “people want a good family life, too. So we’re recruiting new people who are coming in with an understanding that they’ll work on Saturdays.”

“The Saturday schedule,” says Judy Reitz, executive vice president, “is a win for clinicians who want to smooth out their cramped and hassled Monday-to-Fridays and a win for patients who are trying to get in through the door.”

Anne Bennett Swingle

 

 

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