“Who is to judge someone’s medical needs in order to perform their job?” Alonso wrote. “Noah’s surgery, or any other athlete’s surgery during this time shouldn’t be scrutinized considering it is done by orthopedic surgeons, not those on the front lines battling this pandemic.”
He added later: “No athlete wants to go through a serious surgery and grueling recovery process. This surgery is done when it is absolutely necessary for their arm.”
Dr. William Meyers, the president and chairman of the Vincera Institute in Philadelphia, said surgeons like Altchek and ElAttrache are “highly ethical people” who are “not going to change their ethics” during a pandemic. Meyers, who has performed thousands of core muscle operations on athletes including Justin Verlander, Robinson Cano, Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson, said he has been coordinating with state officials to put into place an emergency plan that would convert his institute into an urgent surgical care unit.
“We divide all of the cases that we would be doing there as outpatient into elective versus urgent, and there’s certain criteria for urgent that we developed,” Meyers said. “It sort of changes every day in terms of what the social needs are. It’s evolved into a system, for the next couple of weeks, that defines urgency as stricter than before, just to be ready because we’re heading into this surge — which clearly we’re in.”
Some conditions that would qualify as urgent, he said, would be if a patient would otherwise need an emergency-room visit or hospitalization; if the prognosis would worsen if the surgery was postponed; or if physical therapy would cause further harm. Then again, he said, if the patient has been dealing with the condition for a while with minimal deterioration, the surgery could probably be postponed for at least a few weeks.
“You’ve got to figure out what the mandates are both federally and statewise, and that enters into your judgment,” Meyers added. “There’s certainly an urgency on the part of the athlete, particularly in the off-season, which everybody’s in right now, to get things done. So you have to weigh that sense of urgency versus what’s right.”