Surgeries at Dayton VA unexpectedly delayed this week

Seven surgical suites at Dayton VA Medical Center will remain closed this week after installation of an air handling system by a contractor took longer than planned as part of an $8.3 million renovation, according to the VA.

The delay impacted 49 surgeries that had been scheduled this week, according to the VA.

Of those, five surgeries were “assessed to be urgent,” and would be taken care of at local medical facilities at VA expense, Dayton VA spokesman Ted Froats said in an email. The other 44 patients were given the option to have surgery at a local health care facility or reschedule at the Dayton VA, he said.

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A Beavercreek veteran said Tuesday afternoon the closure caused the cancellation of his scheduled surgery for bladder cancer Wednesday morning.

“I do know that I was supposed to have surgery tomorrow morning for a rather aggressive type of bladder cancer and now I can’t do it,” said John D. Sostrom, 66, a Navy veteran who was a riverine sailor in the Vietnam War.

Sostrom said the cancer was first discovered a year ago, removed last winter, only to return in a recent diagnosis. “They had me scheduled for surgery, then all of a sudden, boom, there is no surgery available for anybody up there,” the veteran said.

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The VA was searching for an alternative surgical provider in the interim, he said. “I just need to get it done because I don’t know if you have ever had to deal with cancer but it’s scary,” he said.

Froats said in an email a contractor was originally scheduled to complete the air handling work last week, when surgeries were not scheduled. But the work unexpectedly extended into scheduled surgeries this week, causing the VA to reschedule dates or set up surgeries with community providers, he said in an email.

“As you can imagine, air quality is vital in a surgical setting — all surgical units must be closed out of an abundance of caution until the new handler is installed, tested, and certified for use in a surgical setting,” Froats wrote. “The good news is that this should only take a week or so until it’s up and running and we can reopen half the suites as we continue the rest of the renovations.”

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Froats said if a patient hospitalized at the medical center needs unexpected emergency surgery in the interim, they would be taken to another facility for immediate treatment.

The Dayton VA has temporarily closed three surgical units to install new technology and expand space for patients in the first significant renovation of the surgical suites since they were constructed in the 1980s, Froats said. The VA planned to finish the other four units once the first phase is completed. The VA could not immediately a construction timeline Tuesday.

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