May 4 has been a long time coming for the Mundy family. After a series of restrictions and closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jessica Mundy’s surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) was postponed March 21.
The ACL is a ligament that helps stabilize your knee and girls are 8 times more likely to tear theirs than boys. While initially deemed an essential surgery, ACL repairs were soon added to the list of surgeries considered nonessential.
So it was a relief to Jessica and her parents, Becky and Jay Mundy, when Ohio Governor Mike DeWine lifted the restrictions on outpatient surgeries. Pediatric orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kerwyn Jones repaired her ACL tear on Monday.
Jessica, a freshman at Green High School, injured her ACL on her second day of lacrosse practice on Feb. 25 and since then, has been hobbling along as best as she can. This hasn’t been easy for a 14-year-old who likes to be on the go, outside and active, with hopes of playing her flute with the Bulldog Marching Band this fall.
“She has struggled with being limited in what she can do,” said her mother, Becky. “Since the weather has been nice out, she cannot be outside doing what she likes. She enjoys taking the dogs on hikes, riding her bike and practicing lacrosse in the backyard. She has adapted to what she can tolerate, but she struggles because she wants to be outside doing things she loves.”
As Akron Children’s begins offering elective surgeries once again, Jessica was one of the first to be operated on in the GOJO Outpatient Surgery Center.
Just as he has done thousands of times before, Dr. Jones, repaired her ACL tear on Monday, one of 10 cases scheduled for the first day. But doing surgeries during a pandemic have created many procedural changes to keep patients and staff healthy.
“We are still finalizing our remobilization plans and clinical teams will be reaching out to families regarding those surgeries, procedures and in-office appointments that had been put on hold,” said Lisa Aurilio, chief operating officer for Akron Children’s. “We plan to proceed slowly as our top priority is the safety of our patient families and employees and preventing the spread of the virus. We are also carefully watching the inventory of PPE, including gowns, masks, gloves and other supplies, given the global shortages.”
The Mundy family are taking the new precautions in stride, realizing the goal is to get Jessica back on the playing field with her lacrosse teammates and her marching band as soon and safely as possible.
“The steps the hospital is taking gave us confidence and a sense of safety,” said Becky. “I appreciate that the hospital is taking precautions to help keep us safe.”
Aurilio said the hospital has been working hard to welcome patients back while keeping safety top of mind as the governor eases hospital restrictions.
“Our providers are more than eager to see their patients again in person, but we will not, in any way, let down our guard in preventing the spread of the coronavirus,” Aurilio said.
What kind of changes can patient families expect moving forward?
72 hours in advance of the planned procedure, surgery candidates need to undergo COVID-19 testing. Jessica and Becky arrived Sunday morning to be tested in the former outpatient lab on the third floor of the Considine Building.
On the day of surgery, families arrive at the Kay Jewelers Pavilion welcome desk and undergo a health screening, which includes taking their temperatures and answering questions about their health.
Face coverings are now required for all staff, patients and visitors while in the hospital, except for children under 2 years of age. If you don’t have a face covering or mask, one will be provided at the visitors’ desk. If you use one of the masks provided by the hospital, please return them as you leave the building so they can be laundered and reused by another family.
Upon entering the Outpatient Surgery Center, the Mundy family noticed tape on the carpet, a visual aide to help everyone practice social distancing. They were warmly greeted by the staff at the registration desk, who now register patients behind a pane of plexiglass.
The waiting areas and seating arrangements have been moved to achieve safe social distancing.
Visitor restrictions are key to helping maintain social distancing and keeping staff and patients safe. Both of Jessica’s parents are permitted to come to the hospital for the procedure. Only one parent is permitted in the exam and recovery rooms, and her sister must stay at home. Jay and Becky trade off being with Jessica before and after the procedure. For outpatient visits, only one caregiver may accompany the patient and siblings are not allowed.
With the surgery behind her now, Jessica looks forward to rehab in about a week, which will take place at the North Canton Health Center.