JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-Lackland, Texas –
“Our mission impacts the San Antonio Military Health System by lessening the burden on Brooke Army Medical Center’s surgical teams, as well as keeping our patients in-house for simple surgeries,” said Staff Sgt. Tandrea Wilson, Post-Anesthesia Care Unit, or PACU, noncommissioned officer in charge.
The 59th Surgical Specialty Flight runs the Same Day Surgery clinic, which gives Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center beneficiaries the option to have low-threat surgeries done in-house rather than being seen at BAMC or being referred off-base.
Same Day Surgery has six distinct sections that work together to deliver the highest level of patient care to every person who walks through their doors. They are the admin section, pre-operative care, anesthesia, operating room, sterile processing and distribution, and PACU.
“No matter what the ebb and flow of the day is, we find a way to make things work,” said Staff Sgt. Lucero Cameron, 59th Surgical Operations Squadron medical administrator. “We do what’s best for the patient ... good old-fashioned teamwork.”
The admin section works directly with the clinics to schedule patients for all necessary appointments. They are also responsible for the pre-op phone call prior to the patient's visit. On the day of the appointment, they check the patient in and ensure all the needed paperwork is completed and filed correctly.
The admin team is simply the first step in a patient’s care in Same Day Surgery. Their next stop is with the pre-op team who prepares the patient for surgery to include taking vitals, running any necessary labs and answering any questions the patient may have.
Once the operating room is ready, the patient is then seen by the OR and anesthesia teams and receives their treatment.
Once the patient leaves the OR, a team goes in to clean, sanitize and prep the room for the next patient.
All tools are taken to sterile processing and distribution where they are cleaned, inspected, sterilized and prepared for the next surgery.
The patient’s final stop is the PACU, where they are brought out of anesthesia and monitored until they are cleared for release. The PACU team then gives them any post-op instructions and delivers them to their vehicle to be taken home for recovery.
“One of my favorite experiences was a patient coming out of anesthesia was so grateful for the care he had received,” Wilson stated. “His gratitude made me proud to be able to help him in his recovery journey.”
Specialties ranging from orthopedics to ophthalmology to general surgery utilize the services of Same Day Surgery.
“We support surgeries for patients who are in the healthy population that doesn’t need to be observed overnight,” Wilson explains. “Our core set of patients come from five clinics: Ear, Nose, and Throat; Ophthalmology; Orthopedic; Podiatry; and General Surgery with surgeries like cataracts removal, shock wave therapy and shoulder or knee surgery.”
On top of the patient load the clinic services, the gastroenterology clinic utilizes the PACU after their patient receives care. This adds an average of five patients a day to the 12 to 15 patients seen in the operating room, which has dropped from the 25 patient average since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
The team in Same Day Surgery has a very short but impactful part to play in a patient’s health. They only interact with patients for a number of days from the pre-op phone call through their surgery to their post-op care and discharge. After discharge, the clinic will do a follow-up phone call. Once that is complete, the patient goes back to their respective clinic for follow-up care.
“While we don’t see patients for very long, we do everything we can to give them quick and easy surgeries with the best possible care,” Wilson said. “From their pre-op phone call to when we walk them to their car, their care is our number one priority.”