We continue to monitor the latest medical information regarding the coronavirus, and adjust our safety precautions as needed to keep our patients, their families, and our staff healthy.
At this moment Omicron is spreading across the US. Predictions are that infections will increase rapidly in the coming weeks, once again threatening to overfill hospitals.
This virus is much more infectious than even the Delta variant, and people who have been fully vaccinated are still getting infected. Fortunately, most of those who have been vaccinated are experiencing relatively mild symptoms and not requiring hospitalization at rates caused by Delta. Getting boosters greatly increases resistance to infection by Omicron, and so we strongly recommend you get that third shot as soon as you are eligible.
We are all tired of the pandemic, but now is not the time to let down our guard! If at all possible, please isolate yourself and the patient for at least 1 week before the scheduled surgery. Please wear a surgical mask, or, better, an N95 mask when you must be out in the public, especially indoors. Please avoid contacts with others outside your immediate family as the time for surgery nears. If you have any reason to suspect you are infected, it is best to test before traveling here.
It has been our policy to only test for covid before surgery in patients and family who are not fully vaccinated. Because Omicron is so much more contagious, we will now be asking everyone who has not been boosted to also test. We continue to monitor this evolving situation and our recommendations may change again on short notice.
We know that you have concerns about the coronavirus situation, and how it affects your travel to our facility and your care at the Hypospadias Specialty Center. It is our main priority to provide you with the best possible care in the safest possible environment. To do that, we are taking greater precautions than most hospitals and surgery centers, with the goal of keeping the virus outside the building. Remember that our center only treats hypospadias, and so, unlike hospitals, there are no ill patients in the facility.
All the doctors, nurses and staff at the Hypospadias Specialty Center and PARC Surgery Center are fully vaccinated, and all who are eligible have also received a booster shot. In addition, everyone who interacts with patients and families will also be wearing N95 masks.
We strongly encourage every eligible person coming to our center to get vaccinated and boosted. This provides the greatest protection for the patient, family members, and our staff.
Everyone who is not fully vaccinated, and boosted when eligible, including patients and family members, must undergo a PCR test no more than 48 hours before the scheduled surgery. This can be done at a convenient lab to you, but if results are not available on time then surgery will have to be postponed. Because of our busy schedule, if that happens we cannot promise that the operation will be rescheduled soon.
Therefore, the most reliable way to be accurately tested and have the results before surgery is to be tested at one of two labs near the Hypospadias Specialty Center: Real Time or Dev. Our office will provide you with information to make an appointment ahead of time for your testing.
One of the main reasons for testing is to avoid operating on someone who is infected with Covid 19. To minimize that risk, if anyone in the family tests positive the surgery will be postponed, even if the patient’s test is negative.
Everyone entering the center must wear a surgical mask, KN 95 or N95 that covers their nose and mouth. Cloth masks are not acceptable. We ask you to keep your mask completely over your nose and mouth at all times when interacting with our staff and physicians, or waiting in the preoperative or postoperative areas.
We understand that young boys may refuse to wear a mask, or might only wear a cloth mask. We also know that parents may want to remove their own masks to coo with their son, but we must ask that you keep your mask completely on inside the preoperative and postoperative areas.
As another precaution for your safety, every family is assigned a private waiting room upon arrival to the PARC Surgery Center. You may take off your mask inside that room, but you will be asked to put it back on when a doctor or a nurse is about to enter.
Each room provides tv and internet for your convenience, and you can bring food and drink to consume there as you wish.
Either Dr. Snodgrass or Dr. Bush will review your individual situation regarding covid during your preoperative telemedicine consultation. Our office will also provide additional information and answer other questions that you may have.
The Coronavirus Situation In Our Area
We are closely monitoring the situation in The Colony, where the Hypospadias Specialty Center is located. This is over 20 miles from Dallas, where most the coronavirus cases in our region have occurred. The nearest hospital where covid patients are treated is 5 miles away.
Planning Your Travel
The safest way to travel here is by car, and after the operation your son can safely and comfortably sit in his usual car seat for the return home.
It is also safe to fly, especially if you take some extra precautions. First, parents and older patients should wear N95 masks during travel, both in the airport and on the plane. It is best to not remove the mask at any time during the flight if at all possible, which means you should not eat or drink on the plane.
It is also a good idea to turn on the air nozzles overhead to keep the air around you disturbed, similar to being outside.
There are face shields available for infants and small boys. You can also wrap a blanket around the shield to act as a mask and provide another layer of protection.
In addition, it is best to wear the mask at all times through airports. If you need to eat, then we suggest you carry your food to a place well away from others before taking off your mask, and then put it back on promptly.
Currently most international travelers are required to have a negative PCR test shortly before departing to the US. In many cases that will also suffice for testing to enter our center. Please confirm with us ahead of time that your testing to travel will be sufficient.
It is still best to wear an N95 mask during the flight and adjust the air nozzle to disturb the air around you when you take it off to eat.
Planning Your Stay
Probably the most safe option is to rent an air b&b or an RV during your stay in our area. If you stay in a hotel, we suggest you request a first floor room in advance, so that you do not need to use an elevator.
When you first arrive at either an Airbnb or a hotel, it is a good idea to wait an hour or so after it was cleaned before entering, and then to wear your N95 mask when your move in and as you sanitize surfaces. It is also best to tell the hotel you do not wish for maid service during your stay, and that they should leave your fresh towels and toiletries either outside or just inside your door.
If you plan to stay with family in our area, then we strongly suggest they be tested for coronavirus before your arrival.
Before your visit
Our nurses will be calling before your visit to review the recent health of everyone in your household and their contacts. If anyone has had symptoms which could be from the virus, we will ask that person and your son be tested.
We strongly recommend that your household quarantine for 1 week prior to surgery if possible. That includes avoiding all activities outside your home which are not absolutely necessary. For those which cannot be avoided, we recommend that you wear N95 masks the entire time, stay at least 6 feet from everyone else, and limit your time in any room or building to the minimum possible. We specifically ask that you not go to restaurants, barber shops, movies, or stores during this time.
The day before surgery
You will need to arrive in Dallas in time for your preoperative covid testing. You should already have an appointment scheduled for testing soon enough that the results will be available before surgery. A trained technician will perform the nasal swabs outside, at your car.
If the patient and everyone in the family is fully vaccinated and, when eligible, also boosted, then preoperative covid testing is not necessary and you can arrive at your convenience before surgery.
We ask that you not come to the facility before your scheduled arrival time for surgery. The anesthesiologist will contact you the evening before surgery, so please watch for his call. For patients whose surgery is Monday, expect a call Sunday evening.
The day of surgery
Our private waiting rooms have limited space and so we ask that only close family members accompany the patient. Everyone planning on coming inside the center will have be vaccinated or have a negative PCR test within 48 hours beforehand.
The nurse will do a final review of recent symptoms, take your temperatures, and weigh your son. The anesthesiologist will perform his examination.
After surgery your doctor will explain what was done and what to expect afterwards. The nurse will alert you several minutes before the surgeon arrives to your room, and at that time we ask that you put your mask back on.
The care of your son will be exactly as it was before the pandemic, except that we will need to limit face-to-face contact as much as possible - for your and our safety.
Last minute changes
The coronavirus health situation is fluid, and subject to unforeseen changes at any time. We are monitoring developments and recommendations from health authorities constantly, and intend to notify families of any changes to these processes as soon as possible.
Please inform the office of your departure date and time if you are traveling here, especially if you are flying, so that we can reach you on short notice if the need arises.
We hope to not inconvenience anyone during the pandemic. Please understand if we have to change plans and reschedule surgery if developments in the Dallas area make that necessary, or if you or your son have a positive test or fever or other symptoms which are worrying for infection the day of surgery.