FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Doctors are encouraging patients to come to the hospital if they need help, rather than put their care on hold because of coronavirus fears.

Last Monday, hospitals were allowed to resume elective procedures. For patients like John Brugos, who have had to postpone medical procedures, it’s a step toward healing.

“It will be a few weeks, but finally I’ll be able to walk again,” he said.

This week, Brugos was the first person to undergo joint replacement surgery at Broward Health Medical Center since the restrictions were lifted.

He was supposed to have knee replacement surgery more than a month ago, but it was delayed due to COVID-19.

“We were planning for months, and we finally got the surgery scheduled, and it was canceled,” Brugos says. “I just thought – more weeks of pain.”

Across the state, non-emergency procedures came to a standstill weeks ago, in an effort to reduce the number of people in the hospital and preserve personal protective equipment.

“It’s been a tough time for hospitals, physicians, and patients who have problems we have not been able to address due to the pandemic,” says Dr. Andrew Ellowitz, a surgeon at Broward Health.

He said he understands some people may have concerns, but he wants patients to feel comfortable.

“We’re taking all the precautions we can to make everything very safe for them and the healthcare workers,” he explained. “No one wants anyone to be infected with COVID, so extraordinary measures are being performed so that there are safe surgeries that are starting to happen.”

Some of those precautions, along with extensive cleaning, include having a separate area with separate physicians for COVID 19 patients, masks for all staff members, and coronavirus rapid tests for surgery patients.

Brugos said he underwent the surgery without hesitation.

“It was just so great to get that phone call and such a relief,” he said.

He looks forward to being able to return to his job and hopes others won’t let fear stop them from getting the help they need.

Karli Barnett