Iredell Health System has resumed some elective procedures this week, effective Monday, May 4. The Health System stopped performing elective cases that were not time-sensitive in mid March at the recommendation of North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
The resumption of surgical procedures began only after a well-thought-out plan was developed over the course of two weeks by a workgroup at the Health System, led by Dr. Joseph Mazzola, Vice President of Medical Affairs, and Becky Quate, Vice President of Nursing and Patient Care Services. That workgroup focused on implementing a process for the safe resumption of elective surgeries and referenced many professional associations’ guidance, with strong reliance on the American College of Surgeons “local resumption of elective surgery guidance” that was released mid-April. The Health System’s medical staff executive committee approved the plan set forth by the workgroup last week.
“The workgroup worked in concert with a large group of physicians on our medical staff to develop a plan for a safe, progressive resumption of elective cases,” said John Green, President and CEO of Iredell Health System. “This design has shorter elective cases with a very small likelihood of needing hospital admission starting first, and then with each few weeks adding on more complex cases with required inpatient stays.”
Leaders at the Health System have also considered the need to scale back on surgical cases should the local COVID-19 situation change unfavorably.
“This plan will only move forward, step by step, if there is an adequate supply of personal protective equipment, pharmaceuticals and other supplies, and only as long as the volume of COVID-19 cases in Iredell County does not get to a higher volume with concerns for our capacity or patient safety,” Green said. “We will be closely monitoring this process on a daily basis with the ability to increase or decrease our volume as needed to protect our staff, our supplies, and the community.”
Patients scheduled for procedures will be asked about their potential exposure to any positive COVID-19 individuals and will have their temperature checked prior to preparation for their surgery. If there is any concern that the individual might be positive for COVID-19, they surgery will be postponed and the patient will be directed to receive appropriate follow-up care first. Waiting rooms have also been set up to encourage social distancing, and visitor restrictions remain for the Health System remain in place.
“We understand that the limiting of elective surgery cases was extremely important for our community, and recognize that there is a growing community need for these surgeries to start back up in a balanced and safe manner,” Green said. “We feel we have a good plan in place and look forward to continuing to care for our community.”