Local hospitals catch up on elective surgeries as COVID cases decline

Published: Mar. 15, 2022 at 6:59 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Local hospitals say it’s full steam ahead to get back on track with elective surgeries. As doctors work through two years of backlogs, they say another challenge can be getting new patients in.

We talked to one local couple waiting for surgery when every minute counts.

“My reaction was he kept saying malignant, and I was sitting there listening, and suddenly, I realized malignant? Benign is best, oh this isn’t good,” said Mandy Slater, Gary’s wife.

The C-word can be very scary.

Gary said: “We’ve lost both our dads to cancers.”

Gary Slater was diagnosed with kidney cancer on Feb. 14.

“Valentine’s Day will be forever different for us,” he said.

Since then, it’s been a waiting game to get his tumor removed.

“Very clear about ‘hey guys we’ve been so backed up with COVID. We’re really going through our backlog right now,’ and I said, ‘okay, roger that,’ he said.

Joining the long list of non-emergencies, but necessary surgeries...waiting for a call.

Mandy said: “Let’s just hurry up and get this done.”

That’s easier said than done. There are multiple waves of COVID, postponed procedures, routine check-ups, and new ones.

Dr. Phillip Coule, chief medical officer and VP of Augusta University Health Care System said: “Running full speed in terms of our procedure schedule. As we try to get back to normal, it important for people to know we have to get back to the basics.”

Gary found out he’s had this cancer growing since 2009. A simple check-up with his doctor, after some back pain, led him to his life-saving MRI.

As faithful Christians, they say it’s all a part of God’s plan.

Gary said: “We’ve been blessed through this whole process, and you know everyone has a story right? And this is now part of our story.”

Another chapter with a tremendous outpouring of support and optimistic outlook. Gary’s surgery is scheduled later this month, the Slaters say they feel extremely relieved to have a date set in stone so they can start this next chapter.

“I love Steven Curtis Chapman. He’s got a song called ‘The Great Adventure,’ and that’s just what we’re on. I’m actually excited about it,” he said.

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