Memorial Health System Officials say, in accordance with guidelines from the Illinois Department of Public Health, they will begin resuming many surgeries and other medical procedures and visits that had been postponed during the initial stages of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
President and CEO of Passavant Area Hospital, Dr. Scott Boston says his staff is working very hard to ensure the safety for everyone, as surgical procedures ramp back up.
“We believe we have done a very good job, we have done a lot of learning and understanding of how to keep both our colleagues and our patients safe at the hospital. We’d like to reinforce the idea that between our cleaning processes, and our personal protective equipment, our environment in the hospital is a very safe place to be.
We would ask that people be reassured that the fact is you are probably safer here than you would be out in the public. We are all wearing the proper PPE, we have all of the cleaning procedures in place, we are following all the standards, so we would like to reassure people that the hospital is a very safe environment, and if you need hospital care it’s the appropriate thing to do.”
Boston says Memorial Health System is following an extensive and specific procedure laid out by the Illinois Department of Public Health, allowing for the postpone-able procedures to continue.
Boston says these were surgeries that were needed, but that were considered safe and reasonable to postpone after the Governor’s stay at home order.
“We are getting to a time where a lot of these procedures probably are becoming less elective and more needed and not able to be postponed, and we are going to learn how to do two things at the same time, in taking very good care of our potential COVID patients, or COVID patients as well as anyone else who needs to receive their healthcare.”
Surgical patients will be required to be healthy with no signs or symptoms of any sickness, as well as undergo a preoperative COVID-19 screening test within 72 hours prior to their scheduled surgery.
Boston says surgical patients will be required to follow strict instructions following their COVID-19 screening.
“From the time that you get tested, that Pre-Op COVID screening test, until the time of your surgery, there are some pretty strict instructions from the Governor, and we also generally agree that this is the safe way to do it, to be very strictly quarantined. So, the ask is, once you have had your COVID test, you do not leave your home, you do not go back out into the public, and you social isolate from your household members, from your family at home. So it will be a little bit of an inconvenience, but it is the best way to keep everybody safe. You have your COVID Pre-Op screening test, and then it is pretty strict quarantine isolation at home until the day of surgery.”
Boston says the amount of scheduled surgeries at Passavant will remain below normal levels of scheduling for the immediate future, however it is the intention of the surgical department to get back to pre-covid levels of surgical procedures as soon as possible, citing that some patients are now six to eight weeks past their original surgery date.
He says there are many surgical needs that will be resumed starting on Monday.
“One of the biggest buckets is orthopedics, people that would have like an arthroscopic procedure, or maybe a total joint replacement procedure. Probably the other big bucket that we are seeing a lot is the gastrointestinal procedures.
Things like colonoscopies or endoscopies where people have had to postpone getting a colonoscopy. These may be screening ones or diagnostic ones for people who have had GI issues and need a colonoscopy to make the diagnosis.
There are lots of other surgeries, things like ear nose and throat procedures, like tonsils or ear tubes taken out, and there are some general surgery cases such as gall bladders for people who have biliary colic or pain from their gall bladder and they have sort of been enduring that during this postpone time.”
Rehabilitation services will also ramp back up at Passavant. Following the moratorium placed on elective surgeries, rehabilitation services were only being provided for those who were already in the process of recovery.
Boston says rehabilitation procedures have also been adjusted due to COVID-19.
“It will look a little different than it did previously. We are going to be practicing all the social distancing parameters, and the patients when they come in for their rehab will be screened. They will get their temperature taken and placed in a mask. So the process will look a little different.
We don’t want to have people congregating in a waiting room, so there may be such things as people will present to the campus, there will be a phone call made that says please wait in your car until a certain time. They would be contacted, they would then come in and receive their therapy, and that way we can maintain good social distancing and still provide the services that people need. “
Surgical patients will also not be allowed to have a companion or chaperone present with them for procedures. Boston says there will be a greater reliance on written instructions and follow up over the phone for patients and caregivers to keep from spreading the coronavirus.
Children and those who are developmentally disabled will still be allowed to have one person accompany them during surgical procedures.