Colonoscopies Again Available for Scheduling as Elective Procedure at VMH
Colonoscopies, the common colon cancer screening procedure, are now again available at Veterans Memorial Hospital.  Since mid-March and COVID-19, all elective procedures at Veterans Memorial Hospital were on hold, until now.  Anyone that is due for a colonoscopy is welcome to schedule one and should contact the Surgical Coordinator at VMH.  Pictured is Harvey Estebo of Waukon, with surgery nurses Andi Goltz,RN, at left, and Brooke Weighner, RN, at right.  Harvey who was one of the first patients who underwent a colonoscopy since COVID-19 and shares his story in the accompanying article.

Colonoscopies Again Available for Scheduling as Elective Procedure at VMH

Colonoscopies are once again available at Veterans Memorial Hospital.  Since mid-March and COVID-19, all elective procedures at Veterans Memorial Hospital have been on hold until now.  Anyone that is due for a colonoscopy or is concerned about symptoms is welcome to schedule a consultation. Individuals who are interested can call the Surgical Coordinator’s office at Veterans Memorial Hospital and ask to be set up for a consultation for a colonoscopy. You may need to see your regular provider in addition to the surgeon prior to the procedure.

The hospital is taking the highest precautions with each and every patient, leaving appropriate time between procedures to clean and let the room air exchange, and using all necessary personal protective equipment and protocols.  Patients are screened for COVID 19 prior to their procedure with both a questionnaire and a swab test. The Surgical Coordinator will review safety measures that need to be taken by the patient in the days before their procedure.

Veterans Memorial Hospital stresses that anyone coming into the hospital wear a face mask.  The Surgery Department also follows strict visitor guidelines. One person may accompany you to your consultation if necessary. On the day of your procedure, you may also have one person present for the post procedure visit with the surgeon when findings are reviewed. Anyone not feeling well is asked to please stay home and call the hospital to reschedule their procedure.

Colorectal cancer can be easily detected, yet it remains the 3rd most diagnosed cancer in the United States.  According to the American Cancer Society, one in 24 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their lifetimeUnfortunately, only about one in three persons in the U.S. gets the recommended screening.  If found early, treatment for colorectal cancer is possible.   Because of effective screening efforts, there are now more than one million survivors of colorectal cancer in the U.S.

The Veterans Memorial Hospital Surgical Department is pleased they can again offer colonoscopies.  “This is such an important exam to have done, and can make a tremendous difference in a person’s future health. I’m so glad to be up and running again, and able to care for the people in our community”, says Suzette Mahoney BSN RN, Surgery supervisor at VMH.

The procedure itself takes about a half an hour, but plan to be at the hospital for three hours -start to finish.  A colonoscopy is beneficial by finding polyps early and removing them before they have a chance to become cancerous.

Harvey Estebo of Waukon was one of the many people who were scheduled for a routine colonoscopy, then had to postpone the procedure due to COVID-19 restrictions.   Harvey, along with the help of his wife Betty, states, “I was scheduled for a colonoscopy on March 30 which the hospital had to cancel due to the  COVID-19 virus.  It was then re-scheduled for early June.  I was disappointed that this had to be rescheduled, but I did not hesitate to have it done at the new time.”

“I was treated politely during all the preparations, had all my questions answered and was assured that I understood what I needed to do.  All precautions were taken for my safety.   On the day of the procedure, I was met at the main desk and ushered to the surgery area. While there I was attended to by a helpful nurse, then met by the anesthetist and the doctor who explained what was about to happen.  All nurses and hospital personnel were very courteous and helpful.”

“Following the procedure, the doctor and nurses were very attentive to my care and made sure that I was doing all right.  I was walked to my car where my wife was waiting to take me home.”

“We are very fortunate to have this hospital here in Waukon with the excellent care provided by those who work there,” concludes Harvey and Betty.  “They even called the next day to see how I was doing.”

According to the American Cancer Society, both men and women are at risk for colorectal cancer.  Other risk factors include:

  • Age 50 or older – younger adults can get it but it’s much more common after age 50.
  • Personal or family history of colorectal cancer or polyps
  • Personal or family history of bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s
  • Certain genetic factors such as Gardner’s syndrome, Lynch Syndrome, Ashkenazi Jewish descent, African American descent
  • Having Type 2 Diabetes
  • Smoking or other tobacco use
  • Alcohol intake
  • Diets high in red or processed meats
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity

If you have questions concerning symptoms or colorectal cancer risk or want to inquire about having a routine colonoscopy, contact your local healthcare provider.