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More people turning to surgical centers for procedures at lower cost

Posted: 3:14 PM, Nov 20, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-20 20:14:39Z

If you've ever had a surgical procedure, you know it can often mean a high hospital bill. Now, more people are turning to surgery centers for a lower cost.

Sandi Bowen is one of those people.

Something as simple as picking out a shirt is more challenging for Bowen than she ever thought it'd be. On Easter, she found a lump in her breast. Doctors told her it was cancer.

"It was very very very confusing," Bowen says. "It still is. It brings tears to my eyes, because I don't understand how I got it."

Instead of a lumpectomy, she decided to remove her entire breast. And instead of going to a hospital for breast reconstruction, Bowen opted for the Kaiser Permanente Ambulatory Surgery Center, where she got the surgery. In less than 24 hours, she was back home recovering.  

"I felt very special," Bowen says. "They were there every time I moved. They came in and talked to me, even goofed around with me."

Dr. Mike Sawyer, the director at the center, says they've worked hard to address concerns regarding patient care.

"If it's a patient that just needs physicians to kind of come to the bedside, and maybe we have to have some kind of intervention, we're able to do that because are here and we are present," Dr. Sawyer says. "On site, as they say. If it's really something that requires a higher level of care, that again allows us to do a pretty quick transfer process over to one of our partner hospitals."

Compared with hospitals, Kaiser Permanente says its patients are seeing an average cost savings of 30 percent on their procedures. It can be anything from simple orthopedic procedure to joint procedures.

However, Dr. Sawyer says there are important questions you need to ask before determining if a surgery center is the best option for you.

"Does your physician feel comfortable with this operation there?" Dr. Sawyer says. "Have you and your physician discussed all the ramifications of that procedure? And then what sort of plans does that ambulatory surgery center have if you were required a higher level of care?"