Elective surgeries resume at Driscoll

Jose Gonzalez (from left), Veronica Taboada-Gonzalez, Leonardo Gonzalez, and Driscoll Children's Hospital's Pediatric Surgeon Haroon Patel, MD.

Elective surgeries are being performed at Driscoll Children’s Hospital after they were postponed on recommendations from the state between March 21 to early May, which was during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Veronica Taboada-Gonzalez, the mother of 4-year-old Leonardo Gonzalez, was thankful her son’s outpatient procedure was done at Driscoll.

“Driscoll Children’s Hospital is a staple here in South Texas. I wouldn’t trust anywhere else, because I know Driscoll caters to kids’ care. Every small detail is geared toward children,” she said.

All elective surgeries were originally cancelled in case of a possible surge of COVID-19 cases in South Texas, which didn’t happen.

Elective surgeries then were resumed on a graded basis. Initially, the number of cases was limited to 50% of capacity. Now Driscoll is open up to full capacity, since there was not an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in Nueces County and the hospital has adequate supplies of PPEs.

“I think Driscoll has done a phenomenal job of ensuring patient safety by limiting elective surgeries to this date. Given the small number of COVID-19 cases in Nueces County, as well as the fact that we have been testing for some time at Driscoll Children's Hospital, it seemed reasonable to have a tiered approach toward resuming elective surgeries,” said Haroon Patel, MD, Pediatric Surgeon. “We have done this in the last several weeks and with continued testing as well as screening, we feel that we can safely resume elective surgeries at this point in time.”

However, measures are being taken to ensure the safest possible care during surgery.

Because of COVID-19, Driscoll has taken additional precautions which include preoperative testing, screening, and intraoperative use of techniques by the anesthesiologist to minimize exposure to droplet spread during induction of anesthesia. Everyone wears a mask and a full PPE is worn by staff directly involved in the care of the child, especially if it involves any potential for droplet exposure.

Taboada-Gonzalez was thankful for such measures and she had some advice for other parents whose children will be having elective surgery done at Driscoll.

“Feel at ease, because all precautions have been taken,” she said. “Everything has been excellent.”

She also had high praise for Dr. Patel: “Dr. Patel is so professional. He took his time explaining things and he was so good with Leo.”

For Dr. Patel, one thing stood out in the hospital’s response to the disease.

“Preparation, preparation, preparation. We were able to take measures that might have seemed extreme and unwarranted for our given situation, but we felt it was imperative for the safety of patients and personnel,” said Dr. Patel.

“We can never predict exactly if and when another outbreak will occur. However, we know what needs to be done in terms of staff and resources, and we are able to respond to this quickly and appropriately. Ultimately, we feel effective communication and transparency with our patients, communities and personnel will serve us well to provide comprehensive safe care for all outpatients,” he said. “We continue to remain vigilant so that we are able to take measures in a timely fashion.”

About Driscoll Children’s Hospital …

“Devoted to expert care, education, outreach and advocacy.”

Driscoll Children’s Hospital is a 189-bed pediatric tertiary care center with more than 30 medical and surgical specialties offering care throughout South Texas, including Corpus Christi, the Rio Grande Valley, Victoria, and Laredo. Through the vision and generosity of its founder, Clara Driscoll, Driscoll Children’s Hospital opened in 1953, becoming the first, and remains the only, free-standing children’s hospital in South Texas. In 2019, Driscoll had almost 142,000 patient visits, including more than 46,000 patients seen at South Texas’ first emergency room created exclusively for children.