Confronting COVID-19 Q&A Series: Chad Sandvig and Cyndi Johnston, Solara Surgical Partners

When governments issued orders to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, elective surgical procedures were put on hold. In the following Q&A, Solara Surgical President and CEO Chad Sandvig and Director of Operations Cyndi Johnston discuss how the restrictions affected their work, and how business will change going forward. Solara Surgical Partners is owned by the Chickasaw Nation, whose corporate offices are in Southlake.

This Q&A is part of an ongoing series of DRC interviews with representatives from our member organizations about how they are facing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Q: What impact did the order restricting elective procedures have on Solara Surgical?

A: Chad Sandvig: Our corporate offices remained open, working to establish new protocols and perform some surgeries. During the restrictions, our facilities operated at approximately 5 to 10 percent surgical capacity, performing qualifying, urgent procedures such as cancer removal, spinal procedures, and acute orthopedic procedures. Our surgical facilities in Oklahoma are beginning to reopen this week (May 4), while our facilities in Florida will continue to operate at a limited capacity awaiting state guidance.

Q: How has Solara Surgical modified its protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among workers or health care providers?

A: Cyndi Johnston: We’ve put a number of new procedures in place. We’ve been screening aggressively, checking patient temperatures, evaluating symptoms and exposure history, and testing for COVID-19. Our objective is to receive test results within 48 to 72 hours, so we’re emphasizing that our patients shelter-in-place in the meantime. Once they’re cleared, they’re screened at the door of our facilities. We’re also screening immediate family members and all others who enter the facility. After screening is complete, we ask patients to return to their vehicles to wait, and we call them when health care providers are ready. All staff is required to wear masks on shift. All facilities have been following CDC guidelines relative to COVID-19 since the early part of March, and all employees focus heavily on cleaning procedures, hygiene etiquette, practice social distancing, etc., throughout their shifts.

Q: What does the future look like for Solara Surgical?

A: Cyndi Johnston: From a health safety perspective, we’ll continue to follow the protocols described above into the foreseeable future to ensure the safety and protection of patients and staff members alike.

A: Chad Sandvig: Solara is in the process of expanding its surgical offerings to include cardiovascular procedures by incorporating this service line at our ambulatory surgical center (ASC) locations in Florida and Oklahoma. These ASCs will perform a number of diagnostic procedures to evaluate heart health, and cardiac catheterization procedures, all of which can be performed on an outpatient basis.