Just being home – in your favorite chair, with a snuggly blanket and your own remote control – can help you feel better. That's part of the benefit of ambulatory surgery - you can go in for a procedure and, barring any complications, you go home in the same day.
"The patient experience for ambulatory surgery is much more comfortable than the in-patient process," says Winslow Alford, MD, chief medical director of the 60,000-square foot Ambulatory Surgery Center opening next month at Kent Hospital. "The patient can also return home within a few hours of arriving at the hospital to return to the comforts of their home and family."
Kent surgeons perform about 19,000 procedures a year, most of which are outpatient. The Ambulatory Surgery Center at Kent will handle mostly orthopedic surgeries, according to Dr. Alford, who is also affiliated with West Bay Orthopaedics and Neurosurgery and is a clinical assistant professor of shoulder and sports medicine at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Other outpatient surgery is performed in the areas of obstetrics/gynecology, urology, gastrointestinal health, ear/nose/throat, podiatry and plastic surgery.
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Ambulatory surgery is generally shorter and requires less anesthesia than procedures requiring a hospital stay afterward. Within one or two hours of the surgery, most patients are awake and comfortable enough to go home.
Clinical staff makes sure the patient and caregivers are prepared to go home, teaching them the care that will need to be done and explaining pain management techniques if necessary.
"The responsibilities of the caregivers and patient once at home vary depending on the type of surgery," Dr. Alford explains. "They must follow the surgeon's simple instructions and call if they have any questions or concerns. It usually involves simple jobs like removing a bandage, elevating a wrist, or taking off a sling on a set schedule."
Pain is usually managed at home several different ways, including:
- Pain medication
- Activity modification
- Anti-inflammatories and anti-spasmotics
"Following a well-designed program from the surgeon usually means the pain will be well controlled without much additional work from the patient and the patient's family," he says.
Staff with the Ambulatory Surgery Center also follows up with each patient to check his or her status and to review the basics of home care.
Location, location, location
Many ambulatory surgery centers are free-standing and not affiliated with a hospital. Dr. Alford notes that Kent's facility affords patients an added layer of security and comfort as their surgery date approaches.
"With a center connected to a hospital, the patient can experience the comforts and efficiency of an outpatient ambulatory boutique during their short stay, but both the patient and their surgeon have the back-up of a full hospital in case of unexpected events," he says.
All patients – including the elderly – are screened before surgery to determine their level of risk in an ambulatory environment.
"Most surgery that is outpatient for a young person can also be done as an outpatient surgery for an elderly patient," he assures.
The Ambulatory Surgery Center at Kent Hospital offers eight new operating rooms, peri-operative bays, clinical support services, and a reception/waiting area. The facility will handle the majority of the hospital's outpatient surgeries as well as endoscopic and pain management procedures currently performed in the main hospital. A new lobby connects the building to the hospital and a separate patient access corridor that leads to a 10-bed short stay unit.
For more information on ambulatory surgery at Kent Hospital, call (401) 737-7010, ext. 1455.
Outpatient surgery is also available at Women & Infants Hospital, where the presence of a surgical robot has expanded the types of surgeries that can be conducted on a minimally-invasive basis.