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GREEN TOWNSHIP, Ohio - Coronavirus stopped Carol Ann Horn’s cancer treatments before they could even get started. Her surgery was canceled because of state orders that aim to stop the spread of COVID-19 by postponing certain surgeries.
The procedure she was scheduled to undergo is considered elective under the order released by the Ohio Department of Health on March 17.
“We’re helpless,” Horn said. “We’re sitting here helpless.”
The 70-year-old former nurse fights every day to stay healthy.
“44 years, everything from floor nurse to director of nursing and long-term care,” Horn said.
Horn helped save thousands of people during her decades-long career. Now her focus is beating cancer, so she can save herself.
“In December, I needed a CAT scan and a head and neck with contrast,” Horn said. “They were actually looking for a bleed or tumor and quite by accident discovered the tumor on my thyroid.”
Surgery to remove the tumor, a procedure that was once just a week away, is now on indefinite hold because of COVID-19.
“I just never knew cancer could wait,” Horn said.
When the order was released, DeWine cited the delay in elective hospital procedures as a way to protect patients and providers from COVID-19.
“This will also help us preserve critically short supplies of PPE and preserve inpatient beds and other equipment for critically ill patients,” DeWine said.
The criteria that operations have to meet to be considered essential include:
- Threat to the patient’s life if surgery or procedure is not performed.
- Threat of permanent dysfunction of an extremity or organ system.
- Risk of metastasis or progression of staging.
- Risk of rapidly worsening to severe symptoms.
Horn said she worries if things get worse, and her surgery can’t happen, she may lose her entire thyroid and her way of life.
“When my doctor told me I needed surgery, he didn’t say ‘Do you want it? We can wait six months or a year.’ He said ‘You need it. We’re going to schedule it now,” Horn said.
The hospital where her surgery was scheduled couldn’t comment on Horn’s case directly because of privacy laws, but they released the following statement:
“Like all Ohio hospitals, [Christ] is explicitly following the Ohio Department of Health’s order to postpone elective surgeries and procedures in an effort to conserve personal protective equipment for healthcare workers and first responders.”
“When you go into surgery, you not only have to be at a certain place physically but emotionally, and the longer I wait the worse I am deteriorating,” Horn said.