April 28, 2020

Elective Surgeries and Procedures Update from Tracy Warner, Greene County Medical Center Interim CEO

Our Chief Medical Director, Dr. Mike Line, our doctors and clinical leaders have developed a plan to address the guidelines outlined in the Governor’s April 24th proclamation to allow the gradual return to elective surgeries and procedures. At this time, surgeries and procedures must pose a significant risk to quality of life or health for the patient if the case or procedure was delayed any further.

We want to make sure our patients feel safe when they come to us seeking healthcare services and we need to make sure we’re reopening in a way that allows us to stay stocked with the needed personal protective equipment, also known as PPE. We also need to be able to adapt if a surge of COVID-19 cases happens in Greene County.

Resuming elective surgeries takes clinical judgement as well as an ongoing assessment of our inventory of PPE. Our doctors, together with their patients, will decide if surgery is urgent or is otherwise necessary at this time. Chronic conditions that may have a significant impact on a patient’s quality of life will also be evaluated. Nonessential or elective surgeries and procedures that may negatively impact our ability to assure an ongoing and adequate supply of PPE will not be undertaken right now. We’re developing a phased approach to increase our ability to return to normal activity over the course of the next month or so, dependent upon COVID activity in the area and our availability of PPE.

Patients will need to be tested for COVID-19 48 hours in advance of a procedure and must have a negative test before surgery can take place. If a patient has respiratory symptoms of fever or a cough, then we’ll postpone the surgery for the safety of the patient and our team members.

So unless COVID activity in Greene County increases, our plan includes gradually increasing the number and types of surgeries allowed to be scheduled over about the next 4 weeks. We’ll start with a limited number outpatient surgeries and expand as we watch COVID activity and our PPE supply as well as adequate staffing to allow more complex procedures and inpatient surgeries. The intent is to return to normal levels as soon as feasible.

In preparation for returning to surgeries, the community can help by giving blood during the Greene County Blood Drive May 12 from 12:30 to 5:30 at the Trinity Lutheran Church. During times of social distancing and stay at home orders the blood supply in our state has been negatively impacted and some surgical cases will not be permitted until we are assured an adequate blood supply is in place for our county.

Lastly, we want our communities to know we have been working diligently since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have developed a surge plan; we have daily testing in place of our staff and now patients for elective surgeries; we are determining appropriate amount PPE supplies on a daily basis; we have strict visitor guidelines and have limited vendors to our building not deemed necessary for operations; we are observing social distancing while at work; and have implemented extra cleaning precautions inside the Medical Center.