SHARONVILLE, Ohio — Dr. Tim Kremchek said he has a backlog of nearly 100 surgeries waiting for him as he prepares to go back into the operating room.
“It's not going to be anything like it was,” said the surgeon at Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, widely known as the Cincinnati Reds medical director.
For six weeks, Kremchek and his colleagues have been developing a plan to reopen Beacon's Sharonville facility after a state-ordered shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We're all chomping at the bit to take care of these people, as are they, too. But it's going to be a learning process,” Kremchek said.
“We've been spending the last six weeks preparing for this to make it safe for us, safe for the patients, safe for their families.”
Starting Friday, doctors have the green light to perform elective surgeries again in Ohio. Gov. Mike DeWine gave the OK last week as long as the patient does not have stay to overnight in a hospital.
The Beacon facility in Sharonville reopens on Monday, so there was a lot of pre-screening Thursday and people waiting in the parking lot to go in one by one.
Doctors said it will be a lot like that next week – patients waiting in their cars, then going in one by one for their surgeries when they are called.
No visitors will be allowed, so families won't be in the waiting rooms or the recovery rooms afterward.
Kremchek’s backlog includes young athletes with sports injuries and older patients with more common life’s pains.
“So if you're talking about the Tommy John surgery, the ACL surgery, these are kids that need to be done now and rehabbed properly so they can come back and play next year,” Kremchek said. “If you do it too late, you have to cut corners and you risk them being reinjured."
On the non-sports side …
“There's a lot of patients in pain, can barely walk, can’t get around,” he said.
Kremchek said his office won't be taking on many patients at first.
“We're going to be a little bit more open about that, but still be very, very restrictive,” he said.
Some are concerned that opening surgeries will deplete the much-needed supply of protective gear. Kremchek said he will be reassessing operations and supplies each week.
“Everybody wants to go back to normal … This is the new norm, and I really think we're going to be here at least until next spring,” Kremchek said. “The vaccine will hopefully come at the end of the year or early next year, so we can change things around again.
“But this is the new norm. Get used to it.”