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Elective surgeries at Munson Health are back to normal levels as COVID cases decline

Piron Guillaume

Orthopedic surgeries have been one of the most delayed medical procedures during the pandemic. The Munson Health system in northern Michigan is seeing an uptick in these procedures as COVID-19 cases continue to decline.

Over the past two years, there have been major fluctuations with delays to non-essential surgeries to help with chronic pain. The primary reason the Munson Healthcare system delayed the procedures was a lack of beds and inadequate staffing during COVID-19 surges.

Spencer Derenzy is the executive director of surgical procedures at Munson. He said they tried to help patients manage their pain during delays.

"We got a lot of patients through that time by doing injections and other treatments that are more conservative in nature," said Derenzy. But ultimately, it just really prolonged the inevitable of needing that total joint replacement."

The consequences of delaying these type of surgeries can impact people’s quality of life.

"The most frequent thing is just living with those pain aspects frequently. You know, a lot of arthritis pain that we commonly see with joint replacements...that would have been delayed," said Derenzy.

According to Derenzy, Munson did more surgeries for the month of March than originally planned and many of the safety procedures established during the pandemic are here to stay.

Rick Brewer has been news director at WCMU since February 2024.