Patient Touts Safety Undergoing Surgery at CVPH

It’s natural to get nervous about having to go through a major surgery. Getting the procedure done in the middle of a pandemic is sure to add to those nerves for many people. But, for Plattsburgh resident Richard Boulrice, COVID-19 was hardly a concern.

“I could not have asked for a better situation than I had right here at CVPH,” Boulrice said just a couple weeks after undergoing a complicated gall bladder surgery at the hospital this summer.

Richard Boulrice

The 73-year-old, who had sheer joy in his voice when he talked about how much he loved teaching social studies at Peru Central School for more than 3 decades, admitted he had to do a lot of learning over the past 13 months thanks to his gall bladder. It all started in the early morning hours of August 15, 2019 when he came to the hospital’s Emergency Department, doubled over in horrendous pain.

The Emergency Department team provided immediate care for Boulrice but ultimately determined he would need to see a physician to further determine the best course of action. That’s when he began seeing Zachary Kanouse, MD, FACS, who discovered numerous problems involving Boulrice’s gall bladder, including blocked bile ducts, inflammation, infectious debris and a lot of scar tissue.

As the weeks and months passed, Boulrice said Dr. Kanouse worked very hard to treat the issues in a variety of ways, as they both hoped to avoid surgery. But ultimately, they both agreed that surgery would indeed be necessary to repair the damage around the gall bladder.

Potentially adding to the risky procedure: it would have to be performed with the pandemic in full swing. Boulrice noticed a change immediately upon arriving at the hospital on the day of the surgery in June: his wife of 49 years would not be able to accompany him inside because of visitor restrictions in place at the hospital due to New York State Department of Health guidelines.

“Any time we’ve ever had a crisis, I would be there for her, and she would be there for me,” Boulrice recalled. “She could not be with me the day of the surgery. She had to stop at the door. That was extremely hard on us.”

As difficult as that was for the couple, Boulrice also noted that both he and his wife were put at ease quickly. Nurses filled in for his wife as best as they could, helping him change into his gown and providing the support he needed as he got ready for surgery. He again pointed to all of the precautions they were taking to keep him and each other safe from COVID-19.

“I felt very safe, and especially with those nurses,” Boulrice offered. “Everything was wiped down. You could tell they were being meticulous. They made sure I had a mask on. CVPH went to the nth degree, making sure a strict protocol was followed.”

The nursing team also knew that Boulrice’s wife, daughter and granddaughters were sitting underneath the tree by the pond in front of the hospital waiting for updates throughout the day. He said nurses called several times to pass on the latest information about how his surgery was going. Boulrice mentioned his family was very grateful for that effort, since they couldn’t be inside the hospital with him, even after he was recovering from the procedure.

Once Boulrice got home from the hospital, he said he began to feel better slowly, but surely. He has spent a lot of time reading and keeping a close eye on the historic pandemic unfolding before our eyes. Boulrice’s daughter and grandchildren have stopped by to visit, though they avoided coming inside, being especially careful to make sure they couldn’t spread COVID-19 or another infection to him.

It reminded him of a conversation he had with his family doctor, Alison Guile, MD, when they discussed the pandemic and its impact on the hospital. Boulrice remembers Dr. Guile telling him that the hospital is as safe an institution as you can possibly get, taking every measure possible to provide for the safety of patients and staff.

“When you hear that from your family doctor, you hear it from your surgeon, you hear it from the anesthesiologist, and then you hear it from the nursing staff, you know safety is a top priority. And when you know that’s a top priority, it just assures you.”

“Was I conscious that there was a possibility that I could get the virus? Absolutely,” Boulrice continued. “Was I concerned about getting it? I would really have to say that I had very little concern that I would get the virus during that surgery, because I knew everything that could be done was being done to protect me.”

While COVID-19 wasn’t a major concern for Boulrice, he admitted the seriousness of the surgery he had to undergo made him nervous. Again, he had high praise for how his entire medical team worked to put him at ease.

“I will always be indebted to Dr. Guile, Dr. Kanouse, Dr. Curry and Dr. Lemos for their dedication, professionalism, extensive competencies and exemplary performances,” Boulrice stated. “Words seem very inadequate in trying to describe the job that Dr. Kanouse, Dr. Curry and the nursing staff did in that operating room. They were confronted with a very serious and complex health care crisis. But, in spite of the challenges, they were able to successfully overcome the almost overwhelming surgical obstacles.”

Boulrice credited the entire team for resolving his extensive health complications, beginning the moment he walked into CVPH’s Emergency Department in August 2019 and continuing through his care following the surgery this past June.

“What greater feeling of safety and security could a patient receive than being fortunate enough to have the exemplary group of doctors that I had at CVPH?”

CVPH works relentlessly to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. Learn more about what to expect the next time you come to the hospital by clicking here.