Dr. Paul Severson shares elective surgeries update on KKIN Radio

Paul Severson, MD, FACS, Chief of Surgery, Riverwood Healthcare Center

Dr. Paul Severson, General Surgeon and Chief of Surgery at Riverwood Healthcare Center, was interviewed about elective surgeries reopening on KKIN Radio’s Community Connections program on May 12, 2020.

“We are happy to bring elective surgeries back to Riverwood,” Dr. Severson said. ”Per Governor Walz’s order allowing elective surgeries to resume on May 11, we are back in business, but only doing about half of the surgeries we were doing before because we have to take a lot of extra precautions now to keep our surgery patients safe.”

“We’re really fortunate to have only two confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Aitkin County and no deaths. We are blessed to have a hospital like Riverwood with multiple entrances and on one floor. This enables us to use a separate entrance—the Michael Ryan Support Services entrance—for surgery patients. We are well able to keep surgery patients separate from those who may be sick.”

Some key points Dr. Severson shared in the KKIN interview include:

  • While we had postponed elective surgeries since late March, our team of five general surgeons has still been performing surgeries for cancer patients and others with urgent health conditions.
  • Each surgeon is evaluating which procedures have top priority. We are operating at a slower pace for an interim period to allow time to adjust to the new workflows and safety precautions.
  • We have many safeguards in place to protect surgery patients, including all surgery team members wearing masks and protective garments that look like space suits.
  • Minimally invasive surgery is our specialty so patient recovery is quick and we are well able to get patients in and out without an overnight stay in the hospital for the most part.
  • Our general surgeons all perform robotic-assisted surgeries, which are same-day procedures for conditions like hernia repair and other abdominal issues.
  • For pre-op exams, we can set up virtual visits via video or do in person according to the preference of the patient.
  • We anticipate increasing our surgeries at Riverwood gradually back up to full capacity in the weeks ahead.

“We have patients coming to see our surgeons from all over the state so virtual visits are a great option for follow-ups to surgery procedures,” Dr. Severson said. “There are wonderful providers and healthcare workers at Riverwood, and we are all are thankful to be serving surgery patients again.”