Colorectal Surgery at University of Miami Health System

Surgeries Continue Safely at UHealth

Dr. Laurence Sands, chief of colorectal surgery at the University of Miami Health System, discusses the importance of maintaining a treatment schedule, includin

Dr. Laurence Sands is chief of colorectal surgery at the University of Miami Health System. For more information on patient safety during the COVID-19, visit the UHealth health news blog.


Delaying surgery is not an option for many patients at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of the University of Miami Health System.

Dr. Laurence Sands, chief of colorectal surgery at UHealth, recently operated on a patient with colon cancer and has been performing surgeries throughout the pandemic.

“Patients that have more of a life-threatening condition, obviously, should come into the hospital. But others who have chronic problems may be putting off surgery because of the pandemic,” says Dr. Sands. “I reassure them that extra safety measures are in place.”

Dr. Sands says the University of Miami Health System has taken every precaution to ensure patients can safely undergo surgery. “The hospital is probably one of the safest places to be right now,” says Dr. Sands. “It’s a very controlled environment.”

New safety measures at UHealth Tower and The Lennar Foundation Medical Center include a no visitor policy and testing patients for COVID-19 before surgery. Those who test positive need to have two consecutive negative tests before surgery can be rescheduled.

At UHealth tower patients being treated for COVID-19 infection are isolated in a separate wing of the hospital. Staff use personal protective equipment and there’s a strict and frequent disinfecting process throughout all facilities.

Due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders in early spring, Ricardo Ramirez was forced to delay surgery to treat a chronic digestive issue that had been causing him discomfort for years. Eager to resolve it, Ricardo took the first opportunity to reschedule the procedure with Dr. Sands.

“Once I got the green light, I took it,” he says. “I didn’t want to take any chance that it would get worse and require urgent or emergency surgery.”

In May, Dr. Sands performed robotic surgery to remove a section of the colon as part of Ricardo’s larger treatment plan. Ricardo says talking through his fears with Dr. Sands helped give him the confidence to move forward. “I went with zero doubt, whatsoever, that I was in a safe place, on my health and on the pandemic,” he says.

Dr. Sands says delaying surgery or treatment can have dire consequences for patients, who run the risk of moving into more advanced stages of the disease where surgery may no longer be an option. “It’s really important when people have symptoms that they seek out their doctor and come to an understanding about what needs to be done.”


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