Some patients with chronic pain still hesitant to schedule procedures even after elective surgeries resume at hospitals

Many people who are dealing with knee, back and other pain remain hesitant to schedule elective procedures amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Besides the pain of isolation, many of us are also dealing with knee, back and other pain because elective surgeries were put on hold. Now as hospitals slowly start to offer scheduled procedures again, some patients remain hesitant. But others can no longer wait.

Long before cOVID-19, retired Pasadena dentist Dr. Jennifer Jones was making plans to get a knee replacement.

"I'm in chronic pain," she said. "I don't function very well at all."

Then the pandemic protocols put her knee procedure in peril.

"I was thinking, oh my goodness, this might not happen," Jones said.

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In March, medical centers across the country put all non-emergency surgeries on hold, creating a two-month back log.

Dr. Paul K. Gilbert, Chief of Surgery at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, said, "We've got everything from hernia repairs to cholecystectomy. Things like this that are urgent or completely elective that have been put off for a while."

Now, as hospitals throughout Southern California start to offer elective surgeries, not everyone is eager to jump in.
"I think there's a lot of fear out there. If there is fear, sometimes people won't come to the hospital or see their doctor because they're afraid of COVID-19," he said.

Gilbert said every patient will get coronavirus testing before their procedure, and every infection control measure including wearing the proper personal protective equipment is being followed.

"We've got floors set aside for COVID-negative patients. Floors set aside for people under investigation, and those that are COVID-positive," he said. "All those protections are in place and it's important for patients to know that."

Jones knows every procedure carries some risk, but after weighing the pros and cons, she's comfortable with going in for knee surgery.

"If I wait too much longer, by the time I have surgery, I'm not giving my physician the opportunity to give me his best result," she said.

"We've been going at this for a while now. I want people to feel safe going to their health care professional," Gilbert said.
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