Rockcastle Regional to Begin Phased Return to Elective Procedures by the End of the Month

on 04/27/2020 11:08 AM

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Rockcastle Regional to Begin Phased Return to Elective Procedures by the End of the Month

APRIL 24, 2020 – Rockcastle Regional, along with other Kentucky hospitals, will begin taking steps to return to normal pre-COVID-19 operations by the end of May. The process will be a three-phased approach that will be carefully implemented to ensure patient safety and prevent the spread of COVID-19 or a resurgence of the virus throughout the state.

“We are excited and ready to begin the gradual process of returning to our normal patient care operations,” said Rockcastle Family Wellness primary care physician, Dr. Karen Saylor. “This three-phased plan is the smart and safe approach for our organization to begin providing elective healthcare for the community, again. Just as the rest of the community, we are all anxious for the return to our normal, daily lives. But we must remember to do this safely and with caution to ensure patient safety remains our top priority.”

On March 18, 2020, Kentucky’s hospitals stopped performing elective procedures in response to a request by Governor Andy Beshear. That action was necessary to conserve critical healthcare resources in order to assure hospitals could respond to the COVID-19 emergency. On April 23, 2020, Governor Beshear authorized the state’s medical facilities to begin plans to gradually return to normal operations.

Kentucky Hospital Association (KHA), working with Kentucky Public Health (KPH) and hospitals throughout the state, including Rockcastle Regional, has created a three-phased approach to guide the healthcare community through the process. The plan is based on recommendations from the National Coronavirus Response and incorporates increased surveillance of new cases. The phased approach will allow time to monitor and rapidly respond to resurgence of COVID-19 transmission.

The ability to resume elective procedures will be dependent on a variety of factors which include the incidence of new COVID-19 cases, and ability to safely treat all patients requiring hospitalization without resorting to crisis standards of care.

The first phase will begin at the end of April and first of May. Some key elements of the first phase are:

  • Restart of diagnostic radiology, laboratory, and non-emergent outpatient services.
  • Pre-anesthesia testing services to restart in preparation for the return of elective surgical procedures.
  • Whenever possible, non-traditional waiting area options will be utilized, such as patients waiting in their cars until they are ready to be taken to an exam/procedure room.
  • Social distancing will continue to be utilized in waiting areas where non-traditional waiting options are not feasible.
  • Masking will continue to be used in all patient care. Patient cloth masking is acceptable on a case-by-case basis for outpatient care in clinics, physician’s offices, etc.
  • COVID-19 screening will continue for all staff, patients, and visitors.
  • Visitation limitation will continue for all inpatient and outpatient care locations (e.g. limited to situations where patients require to be accompanied in cases of pediatric patients or those patients who are incapacitated).
  • Telehealth (video chat or virtual visits) will continue to be encouraged whenever feasible.

The second phase is the return of all outpatient procedures and is expected to begin around the first full week of May. The second phase will begin once it’s determined a resurgence of COVID-19 cases are not indicated. Healthcare facilities that are able to continue COVID-19 testing, maintain a 14-day personal protective equipment (PPE) supply, and maintain certain levels of bed capacity to care for potential COVID-19 patients are able to move onto phase two. This phase requires COVID-19 testing to be performed on all elective procedural patients 72-96 hours prior to actual procedures.

Phase three is slated to begin around the second or third week of May, and is the return of all inpatient procedures to pre-COVID-19 levels. Movement to this third, and final phase, can only be initiated once phases one and two have been successful with sustained low or manageable COVID-19 cases, as determined by KPH. However, the advancement of the phases might be different for each facility, based on the facility’s ability to achieve and maintain the requirements of each phase.

This three-phase approach is subject to any significant change in COVID-19 cases within each healthcare facility, the communities of the facilities, and the state of Kentucky, as a whole. The timeline may be altered, paused, or even reversed to ensure the state’s healthcare facilities are able to maintain adequate resources and capacity to care for all patients. 

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