Social distancing, as this community grapples with COVID-19, means that homes have morphed into offices, classrooms and gyms. Healthcare delivery has had to follow suit — even within the typically “hands-on” realm of orthopedic services.

“We often see an uptick in orthopedic injuries like fractures as the weather becomes milder,” said Michael LeCroy, MD, Director of Orthopedic Trauma Services at Mission Health. “We expect to see even more this spring, since getting outdoors to hike, bike or walk is our only option for getting a break from being inside in this post-COVID-19 world.”

A New Normal

Safety regulations now also prevent most in-person patient-physician consultations, in which test results are reviewed and questions addressed. Despite how drastically the pandemic has altered lifestyles, Dr. LeCroy wants the community to know that orthopedic care hasn’t been compromised. “We’ve effectively worked around the considerable limitations COVID-19 best practices pose,” he said. “I’m happy to report that the high level of care we’re offering — and its timeliness — is equal to what people were accustomed to prior to this pandemic.”

According to Dr. LeCroy, the most common orthopedic injuries at this time of year involve either traumatic ones from car wrecks and motorcycle accidents, or fractures, usually resulting from outdoor recreation. “Fortunately we’re seeing fewer vehicle injuries, probably due to people staying home more, but we’re still treating plenty of common fractures like broken wrists and ankles,” he said. He added that he frequently sees patients with hip fractures too, because of Western North Carolina’s sizable senior population.

Telehealth Offers Critical Solutions

The orthopedic care team has incorporated a new, safer model of connection for providing care, both locally and regionally. “We’re using telehealth to consult with patients no matter where they are,” said Dr. LeCroy. “A video platform allows us to ‘visit’ patients, discuss their diagnoses, and answer questions. I can view X-rays and other pertinent data from anywhere, make condition updates, form a treatment plan and quickly determine whether a patient needs surgery.” Feedback from patients is positive, he shared, because they know staying home minimizes their risk.

Enhanced Local and Regional Care

These capabilities also allow Dr. LeCroy and his colleagues to keep patients out of the ER, a now-critical consideration. Surgical patients are getting procedures done even more quickly, sometimes within 24 hours, since COVID-19 has postponed elective surgeries. “We have tremendous resources available to help us manage emergent situations capably, both locally and at distant sites. We’re fielding calls daily from urgent care centers and ERs all over the region — both in and out of our Mission Health network — relying on us to help their patients needing orthopedic care,” said Dr. LeCroy.

Even though the anticipated COVID-19 patient spike hasn’t hit yet, Dr. LeCroy feels well-prepared. “We’re confident HCA’s supply chain can provide all proper personal protective equipment needed for treating these patients, as well as those arriving for orthopedic surgery,” he said. “We’re fully staffed and ready for any emergency, orthopedic or otherwise.”

Michael LeCroy, MD, is Director of Orthopedic Trauma Services at Mission Health. For more information on Mission Health Orthopedic Trauma Services, call 828-213-1994 or click here.

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