Collaborative Partner: Lurie Children’s Supports Other Hospitals During Pandemic

Sometimes surgery can’t be postponed, even during a global pandemic.

That was the case in April when John Sarwark, MD, Head of the Division of Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, got a call from a longtime colleague.

Steven Gitelis, MD, an orthopaedic oncologist at Rush University Medical Center, had a patient who needed surgery within a 10-day window. The 16-year-old patient had a complicated osteosarcoma, and the surgery was an emergent situation.

Still, like most hospitals in the U.S., most surgical cases at Rush were paused to conserve beds to treat COIVD-19 patients. So when Dr. Gitelis called Dr. Sarwark to ask if surgery could be scheduled at Lurie Children’s, Dr. Sarwark didn’t hesitate.

Less than 24 hours later, Dr. Gitelis was granted emergency permission to operate at Lurie Children’s. The surgery was successful, and the patient is recovering.

“We were ready to treat pediatric patients so Rush could use its resources for adults with COVID-19,” said Dr. Sarwark, who also is a professor of orthopaedic surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “In these challenging times, collaboration must take precedence.”

“Dr. Sarwark and his surgical team were unbelievably helpful,” said Dr. Gitelis, who is director of musculoskeletal oncology at Rush University Cancer Center and director of the Section of Orthopaedic Oncology. “They welcomed me – provided everything I needed for a complicated cancer operation. I can’t say enough about our work together.”

Extending Lurie Children’s Care Further

Lurie Children’s is an active supporter of adult hospitals during this crisis. The hospital in April loaned 10 ventilators, and is prepared to care for pediatric inpatients from adult hospitals to allow more beds for adult care. Lurie Children’s has temporarily increased the age limit for patient care to 25 years old, extending resources to young adults and creating more capacity in adult facilities for treating COVID-19 patients.

The hospital has also launched a COVID-19 Call Center staffed by nurses for questions related to testing criteria and general information about the virus. The Call Center is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and weekends, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visit the Covid-19 Resource page on the Lurie Children’s web site for more information.