The end of the COVID-19 pandemic is in sight, but hospital surgery departments will not likely see a rapid return to normal. The vaccine rollout has had a slow start, and the risk of new COVID variants could complicate the path to herd immunity. For key OR stakeholders like surgeons, anesthesia providers and nurses, the pandemic has had complex ramifications that are still unfolding.
Since the start of the pandemic, perioperative leaders have had to stay flexible and act quickly. The next 12 months will call for the same vigilance. OR leaders will need to reassess the environment frequently and make course corrections as needed.
The focus this year should be on surviving financially. Because of the surge in COVID cases, many hospitals and hospital-owned ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) are again being forced to cancel or restrict elective surgery—the profit engine of the OR. The most effective response will include a mix of short-term tactics and longterm strategy. OR leaders can address this issue proactively by collaborating with their surgeon and anesthesia partners on a handful of key issues.