When Governor Kim Reynolds announced on April 24th that hospitals would be allowed to resume elective surgeries, we were prepared with a plan to move forward. As a system, we began working on an elective surgery re-establishment plan early on in order to resume care quickly. This planning involved many members of our care team to navigate the Governor’s safety parameters as they evolved over time.
“We knew at some point Governor Reynolds would allow hospitals to perform elective surgeries again, but we didn’t know what that would look like when we started to make our plan,” shared Ashley Recknor, Specialty Services Officer. “During the planning phase, we developed multiple scenarios we could swiftly implement when we were allowed to re-open this service.”
To resume surgeries, hospital staff will contact patients who were previously scheduled to see if they are available and wish to proceed at this time. During the call, COVID-19 screening questions will be covered, along with other normal processes such as scheduling a pre-surgery physical and lab work or gathering insurance information.
At the time of this initial call, a patient must meet the certain low-risk criteria to be eligible for surgery. Our medical executive team continues to monitor and adjust the evolving COVID-19 situation to determine the criteria requirements.
“Our goal is to make sure patients receive the same quality care they’ve come to expect from us while limiting the number of staff interactions during their time with us,” said Michael McLoughlin, MD, MS. McLoughlin has been one of the lead physicians on the overall COVID-19 team for Iowa Specialty Hospitals & Clinics.
We are also changing some of our normal processes to limit patient interaction. Among these changes are providing a special entrance for surgery patients; ensuring the admitting nurse is also the recovery nurse; and limiting movement of the designated surgical team during the day.
The day before surgery, patients will be called to review instructions and to ensure nothing has changed in the patient’s health status. In Clarion, patients will park on main street in front of the administration offices. In Belmond, they will park in the library parking lot behind the hospital. At both facilities, the patient will enter through a designated entrance as mentioned above. Surgery patients and their support persons are encouraged to bring their own masks to wear upon arrival.
“We know several of our patients are currently staying closer to home making this an ideal time to have their surgical procedures performed. We want to do our best to meet those needs while being proactive with extra safety measures,” said Heather Hutchinson, Surgery Leader.
“The current environment has us constantly changing, and we believe this new process will maximize patient and staff safety while providing healthcare to our patients who have been waiting to have their previously scheduled surgical procedures. We will continue to monitor and make necessary changes to ensure everyone’s safety,” concluded Recknor.