Preparing for surgery can be daunting, with questions, medical terminology and anxiety swirling around a patient's head, all while they are trying to get to a healthier place.
So notes Linda Grogan, executive director of women's, children's and surgical services at Carroll Hospital. That's why the hospital is launching a series of pre-operative education classes for patients and family members.
"Having surgery is a very scary time for many people and this helps to prepare them for the surgery and it helps them ask questions earlier in the process," she said. "It can be hard to absorb everything at the time, so it's much better to prepare ahead of time and know what to expect in the process."
The first class will be held 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 18, in the hospital's Shauck Auditorium. There's no charge for the class and those who are interested do not even need to register, according to Grogan.
"They can just show up," she said.
The class will be taught by nurses and, if possible, an anesthesiologist, Grogan said, and will focus on things people can do to prepare themselves for the day of their surgery and their recovery afterward. For instance, taking the time to improve their health ahead of time, such as quitting smoking if they are smokers, will help with recovery later, she said.
"Maybe increase their exercise a little bit if they are healthy enough to exercise; to get out and walk a little bit," Grogan said.
It can also be helpful for both patients and hospital staff if a patient has their medical history and a list of current medications handy prior to the date of their surgery, she said.
"Our patients typically all get a phone call from our pre-admissions testing department," Grogan said. "They ask them questions such as, 'what medications do you take?' and 'have you had surgery in the past?' This class will help prepare them for that conversation."
The class will also go over preparations patients can make at home in order to make their recovery faster and more comfortable, Grogan said. Such as, if they have an incision, "how to best prepare their home environment for having a clean dry place to store those supplies and knowing the importance of washing their hands before they change that dressing."
It can also be important to find a designated support person for after surgery, according to Grogan.
"Any patient that has surgery needs to have someone with them for the first 24 hours if they have anesthesia," she said. "Knowing that ahead of time and knowing if there is a family member or a neighbor, someone dependable that can stay with them can be important."
Some of these post-operative care concerns are newer, Grogan said, because newer surgical procedures often allow for outpatient surgery, or else shorter hospital stays than in years past.
"They are going home much quicker, so it's teaching them how to take care of themselves to help to prevent any complications once they get home," she said.
The class came about because of the hospital's success with a similar program of many years, focused on patients undergoing joint replacement surgery, according to Grogan.
"That has been so successful that we decided we should do something for all of our surgical patients," she said. "It is to help inform them about what they need to do to be fully involved in their care and how they can help prepare themselves for the best possible recovery."
The plan is for the class to be a regular feature at the hospital, Grogan said. After the inaugural class on Sept. 18, the class will be offered on the first and third Mondays of every month going forward.
If you go
What: Carroll Hospital Pre-Operative Education Classes
When: 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 18, and then the first and third Monday of each month thereafter.
Where: Shauck Auditorium, Carroll Hospital East Pavilion, 291 Stoner Ave., Westminster
Cost: Free. No registration required, just show up.