Dr. Tom Pereles to patients: Your elective surgery could be postponed until 2021

Angie Stewart -   Print  |

Tom Pereles, MD, typically performs joint replacements at Shenandoah Valley Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Fishersville, Va.

Lately, with many elective procedures postponed during the coronavirus pandemic, the orthopedic surgeon has been working night shifts in Fishersville-based Augusta Health's emergency room, according to the Staunton News Leader. He doesn't interact with patients who may have COVID-19, instead focusing on conditions such as broken bones.

"Not complaining. This is my job and I love it, but I have been on call five out of the last six nights — I am ready for a nice quiet weekend." he wrote in an Instagram post. "It feels good to help folks when they get injured or sick, but I really miss doing the 'elective' joint replacements that my partners and I normally do."

Dr. Pereles normally completes as many as eight joint replacements a week, with a waiting list close to eight months. In mid-March, he told his patients they'll likely have to wait until 2021 to undergo elective surgeries — he believes these cases won't resume until May 1 of this year, at the earliest.

"That's terribly inconvenient for patients who can’t walk or can't work because of their arthritis," he told the News Leader.

For now, Shenandoah Valley Orthopedics and Sports Medicine is using telemedicine to examine patients with nonemergency injuries, and August Health's joint replacement unit is serving as a negative pressure unit for COVID-19 treatment. It was converted more than a month ago, with air evacuated through a filter to prevent disease transmission.

More articles on orthopedics:
6 industry layoffs, furloughs for physician leaders to know
Dr. Neal ElAttrache defends orthopedic surgeries performed during COVID-19 crisis
'The patients are deferred; they're not going away,' says Life Spine CEO on coronavirus



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