Colonoscopies Resume, As Do Other Out-Patient Procedures

As a “joke” for a Valentine’s Day present, I made an appointment for my husband and me to have joint colonoscopies.

It had been five years since our last procedure with Dr. William Katkov, who also happens to be a Palisades High alum. Based in Santa Monica, he received his M.D. from the University of Southern California, with a residency at Cedars-Sinai and a fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Scheduled for March, our colonoscopies were cancelled along with all non-emergency procedures when the Covid-19 lockdown went into place in Los Angeles County in mid-March.

We received word in early May that the procedure was rescheduled for May 22, but first we had to be tested for Covid-19.

We made an appointment and then joined a line of cars on May 18 at Cedars to be tested. We never left the car. After we verified who we were by showing  identification through closed windows, the front windows were rolled down and a long swab was stuck up a nostril. We were told the results would be back in time for the procedure.

On May 21, we fasted all day in preparation for the procedure, but at 4:30 p.m. we received a call that the results had not come back, and the procedure would have to be rescheduled.

Later that night the results came in and we were negative, so the procedure was scheduled for May 26, the day after Memorial Day. We fasted again until 5 p.m., dreading the final cleansing procedures. Fortunately, when we drank the lubricating liquid, it was different than five years ago and infinitely easier to digest. We spent the evening near a bathroom, and this morning we drank the second round of our “cocktail,” before going to the endoscopy center on Wilshire in West L.A.

Dr. William Katkov

The waiting room was wiped down repeatedly, everybody was required to wear masks, and our temperature was taken when entering the waiting room and when entering the procedure room. There was disinfectant everywhere, and even the pen we used was disinfected.

Katkov is an excellent doctor and the procedure went smoothly.

I would urge everybody who has put off a procedure or operation to schedule one now because hospitals and emergency personal in Los Angeles have not been impacted with Covid-19 patients, as they feared.

St. John’s Hospital, for example, sent out the following announcement last week:

“Dear Valued Patient,

“We want to share some important information that could be beneficial to your health and well-being. On April 22, 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted restrictions at hospitals, allowing surgical procedures to resume.

“This is welcomed news to many of our patients who have been unnecessarily living in pain or discomfort from issues that can be surgically treated. You can now reach out to your physician to schedule surgery.

“Knowing the restrictions would be lifted, but COVID 19 would still be in our communities, we worked hard to ensure that our patients, employees and physicians would all feel safe in the hospital. These are the important measures we put in place, as the safety of all who enter our doors is our number one priority:

  • Any person who enters our hospital must have their temperature taken, be free of any COVID 19 symptoms and wear a surgical mask while inside. If fever or symptoms are present, that person will be sent home. Patients must also wear a surgical mask at all times (some exceptions apply).
  • Surgical patients will be given a COVID 19 test before their procedure. If positive, the surgery will be rescheduled to a later date.
  • We use a special robot that uses a UV light to kill all germs in patient rooms and surgical suites.
  • Every area of the hospital has a hand-sanitizer station.
  • Surgical or medical patients are kept isolated and on a separate floor from our dedicated COVID 19 units. COVID 19 patients are quarantined in rooms that have negative airflow pressure and their caregivers follow the strictest precautions, using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Non-essential personnel and visitors are not permitted in the hospital. There are some special exceptions to the visitor policy.
  • Every night a task force of physician leaders, executives and infection prevention specialists meet at Providence Saint John’s to examine and review all safety and infection prevention strategies. This allows us to be nimble and adjust based on daily census or other factors that might impact workflows.
  • The Providence system has a clinical focus group to discuss all aspects of perioperative safety, with more than 400 physicians and caregivers attending a teleconference to receive important safety updates from our sister hospitals across the country.

“We understand the fear that surrounds COVID 19 but want you to know that all Providence hospitals have been vigilant about the safety of their caregivers and patients.

“You have remained patient during this time, delaying a procedure that is going to improve your health and well-being. Thank you for being responsible and taking care of others while complying with stay‐at‐home orders. Now it is time to put you first. We are ready, so let us care for you.”


Michael Ricks

Chief Executive

Providence Saint John’s Hospital in Santa Monica.

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