Staying Local: Surgery provides relief, strengthens bond with community hospital
After experiencing a nagging pain down his left leg for several months and a lump on his right abdomen, Derek Mason decided it was time to see his doctor to get some answers.
The South Boston resident made an appointment with his family physician, who recommended an ultrasound. Images showed Derek had two hernias that would require surgery to repair.
Derek and his wife, Vanessa, pondered where to schedule the surgery. Derek is a financial advisor for a community bank, and Vanessa works at Halifax County Schools. They have two boys who are very active in school and extracurricular activities. Should they drive north or south to neighboring medical centers? Or choose the community hospital that's only two miles from home: Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital.
Derek scheduled an appointment with Yaning Zhang, MD, a general surgeon with Sentara Halifax General Surgery. After the meeting, Derek and Vanessa were impressed with Dr. Zhang and his proposed care plan. Staying local and scheduling surgery at Sentara Halifax was the best decision for Derek and his family.
"We chose to support our community hospital," Derek explains. "We are only two miles away from the hospital. Follow-up appointments would be much more convenient, as well."
Derek was scheduled swiftly for his hernia repair surgery - 10 days after his appointment with Dr. Zhang
A hernia occurs when tissue or an internal organ, such as the intestine, pokes through the muscles, forming a bulge. To fix hernias, surgeons access them through small incisions (3-5 millimeters). This allows for an easier and significantly shorter recovery than traditional, more invasive surgery. During the surgery, the doctor reinforces the weak muscle, making the bulge disappears and ensuring the organ or tissue is back in place.
The morning of the surgery, Dr. Zhang checked with Derek and Vanessa, reassuring them both about the minimally invasive procedure.
A nurse asked Vanessa if she would like to receive texts through the hospital's "notify the family" program to update her on the progress of Derek's surgery. She was grateful for the option.
"The surgery ended up being 5 and 1/2 hours - much longer than expected - to repair both hernias," Vanessa recalls. "I received texts updating me almost every hour. This gave me much peace of mind."
After surgery, Dr. Zhang updated Vanessa and reviewed post-surgical care. He had fixed two hernias - one on each side of his abdomen. She appreciated how personable Dr. Zhang was and respectful of the anxiety families feel during surgery.
"I couldn't have been treated better or received better care," Derek adds.
Derek worked from home for a few days after surgery and returned to the office the following week. Post-surgery instructions required Derek to take it easy - especially not to lift anything over 15 pounds. While the instructions weren't too taxing, Derek, an active person and golfer, was eager for the weeks to pass to return to his normal routine - and to fully help with household chores.
Both Derek and Vanessa were grateful for the care they received at Halifax, both as a patient and as a family member.
"We had such a good experience," Vanessa says. "The surgery went well. The nurses were great. The paperwork went smoothly. Everything went well."