Coronavirus in California: Hospitals to resume necessary surgeries, ease patients' COVID-19 fears

STANFORD, Calif. (KGO) -- Following the anticipated surge that never came, hospitals across California have now been given the green light to schedule necessary surgeries that had been delayed to free up space and resources in preparation for a COVID-19 onslaught.

But as these procedures resume, some patients are worried about going to the doctor altogether, out of fear of contracting the virus.

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"I just want to re-assure people that there's no reason to be afraid," said Dr. Andra Blomkalns, chair of the Stanford Emergency Medicine Department. "If you need to come to the hospital, come to the hospital. We'll be there."

To ease those fears, Stanford Health Care says all of its frontline employees are in the process of being tested for COVID-19, as well as antibodies to the virus which can help provide more information about a person's immune response to an infection. So far, nearly 3,000 out of approximately 15,000 workers have been tested. Less than 1% have come back positive.

Officials are stressing the importance of not delaying necessary care that could ultimately lead to more complicated or debilitating injuries or illnesses, if left unchecked.

"We have universal masking protocols so that individuals are wearing masks that are employees and those individuals that come in are being asked to wear masks," said David Entwistle, president and CEO of Stanford Health Care. "We are also doing temperature checks on all of our employees that come in."

As California gets closer to flattening the curve, hospital leaders say they're proud of the dedication of their team.

"It is amazing how many hours people have been working here, and at home, and on Zoom, trying to prepare for this," said Blomkalns. "It's not time to become casual or complacent about it. We still need to maintain vigor and have a plan."

Surgery patients are now being tested for novel coronavirus a few days before they're scheduled to come in for a procedure. Those who are still worried about visiting the hospital are urged to consider Stanford's Telehealth options.

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