Elective Surgery David Grantham

Dr. David Grantham and the surgical team perform a laparoscopic procedure at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst.  All photos by Laura Douglass/The Pilot

Minutes before he steps into the operating room, Dr. David Grantham stops by the surgical admission suite at Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst.

His patient breaks into a smile when he enters the room. A book and reading glasses rest on her lap. She’s ready, she tells him.

Hidden behind a surgical mask, Grantham’s return smile is hard to discern. Instead he reaches down to give her foot a comforting squeeze through the blanket.

Surgical prep

Taking inventory of sterile instruments before surgery. 

“That’s the hardest part. As a physician, you want to have that same touch with your patients,” he said. “We’ve had to change our social interactions with folks. Patients appreciate a reassuring pat on the shoulder or to hold their hand, but those things are frowned upon right now.”

Moore Regional Hospital has 17 operating rooms, and 24 in total across the FirstHealth of the Carolinas system. But in mid-March, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services requested all hospitals and surgery centers to suspend elective surgeries, defined as procedures that if not done within the next four-week period would not cause harm to the patient.

The pause in services preserved gloves, masks and other personal protective equipment and to ensure adequate staff and hospital beds to prepare for a wave of COVID-19 patients.

Those restrictions were lifted on May 1, with FirstHealth and PSC resuming a more normalized elective surgery schedule as of May 11.

Dr. David Grantham

Dr. David Grantham scrubs up while his patient is prepped for surgery. from outside the OR. 

According to FirstHealth spokeswoman Emily Sloan, Moore Regional averaged 270 surgeries a week prior to COVID-19 restrictions.

“We are closely approaching that same level now in terms of number and complexity of cases,” Sloan said. “We believe demand is strong because many of the non time-sensitive surgeries that were delayed have now become necessary for our patients.”

Dr. David Grantham

However, FirstHealth’s COVID-19 containment measures remain in place at all facilities — and across the road at Pinehurst Surgical Clinic. There are required temperature checks and universal masking for all patients, staff and visitors.

The system’s enhanced visitor restrictions also remain, which is why Grantham’s patient was alone in her room.

Before the surgery begins, a member of the OR nursing staff calls the patient’s family. Grantham reached back out again by telephone when it was over.

“That is the hardest part for me, to see patients have to come alone. I am a hugger, so I have to stop myself from hugging,” said nurse Carol Craven. “I treat patients like how I’d want to be treated.”

Dr. David Grantham

A young patient talks with Dr. Grantham prior to surgery.  

Grantham said he also will have multiple conversations with the patient and their family to explain a procedure and treatment plan because of the visitor restrictions.

“It’s another layer of difference. You can’t talk to everyone at once,” he said. “But what happens inside the operating room is the same. Everyone has their job and everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing.”

Like a choreographed dance, the operating room staff easily maneuver around each other and large pieces of medical equipment. Sterile gowns, gloves, and masks muffle sound while a radio plays pop songs quietly from the corner.

Grantham was always a frequent visitor at the hospital where he grew up in Hickory. His mother worked in administration and when he wasn’t hanging out at the gift shop, she’d volunteer him to alphabetize patient charts. As he got older, he interacted more with the doctors on-staff.

College followed, then medical school, and a general/bariatric surgical residency before he joined Pinehurst Surgical Clinic (PSC). Today, Grantham serves as president of the multi-specialty surgical practice and is chairman of the Department of Surgery at Moore Regional.

“You are given leadership roles by being honest with people. I am a safety advocate and a patient advocate. It’s not a popularity contest,” he said, with a laugh, “I’d lose that one.”

FirstHealth transport team

Members of the FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital transporter team.

Less than 30 minutes later, his patient is headed for recovery and Grantham begins to scrub up for his next surgery. It’s the versatility of his job, he said, that he enjoys the most.

“That is the beauty of general surgery. You are taking care of different patients with all different needs.”

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Comments that violate any of the rules above are subject to removal by staff.

Thank you for reading!

Please purchase a subscription to continue reading. Subscribe today and support local community journalism.

Digital Only Subscriptions

Get 24-7 digital-only access and support award-winning community journalism. This gives you access to thepilot.com and its electronic replica edition.

Starting at
$5.35 for 30 days

Already a Print Subscriber? Get Digital Access Free.

As a print subscriber , you also receive unlimited digital access. You can do that here. For any problems, call our customer service number at 910-693-2487 or 693-2488.

Free access for current print subscribers

Home Delivery

Get all the news of Moore County delivered to your home each Wednesday and Sunday with home delivery. Your home delivery subscription also includes unlimited digital access to thepilot.com.

Starting at
$27.82 for 90 days