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The surgery she needed to get back to school, pain-free

When her doctor told she needed exploratory surgery for her debilitating pain, Laura Becker had two concerns: finding the best surgeon and being able to return to teaching in the fall. The Derry Township teacher’s physician referred her to Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Dr. Gerald Harkins, a surgeon with Penn State Health Women’s Health. Laura reviewed all of her options, did her own research and agreed that Penn State Health was where she wanted to go.

Then COVID-19 happened. Through the virtual care options available from Penn State Health OnDemand, Laura was able to consult with Harkins virtually in April. Her surgical plans stayed on track while she remained safe during the height of COVID. “I was very comfortable meeting with him from the safety of my own home,” she said.

Surgeons at other hospitals had recommended Laura have exploratory surgery that would most likely require follow-up surgery. Instead, Harkins suggested one operation that would include both a hysterectomy and an elective appendectomy. She agreed that this was the best choice for her and her family.

One of Laura’s biggest concerns was whether she would be able to teach again in the fall without pain. Harkins reassured her that he would get her surgery scheduled and completed and give her a full eight weeks to recover before she returned to school – whatever form that would take.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Laura had a pre-surgical appointment in early June and was scheduled for surgery a few weeks later. Although she had never been to the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, she felt well-prepared thanks to Harkins’ staff.

“I had COVID testing three days before surgery, and that went smoothly. I knew just where to go and what to expect,” Laura said.

The surgery was a success. Laura felt safe from the moment she arrived for the procedure, through the preoperative process, the operation and her postoperative recovery.

“My nurse was fabulous, and the whole team took care of me really well,” she said. She opted to return home that evening to begin her recovery.

Laura became very comfortable with telehealth visits and completed her surgical follow-up virtually. “I like being able to meet with Dr. Harkins virtually and not have to drive to and from appointments or worry about potential exposure to COVID-19.”

Laura spent the summer recovering, feeling better each day. She’s been able to get back to being active with her family. And, as promised, she’s ready to return to the classroom, pain-free, just in time for a new school year.

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