Ballad Health updates on re-opening elective surgeries

Published 4:08 pm Thursday, April 23, 2020

Ballad Health announced updates to re-opening elective surgeries during a media briefing on Thursday.
Eric Deaton, Chief Commanding Officer and Incident Commander, said during the briefing that on Thursday they would be sending their final recommendations to Governor Lee about how to re-open elective and non-emergency procedures for review and approval. He also said their plan will be complete by early next week after finalizing details with surgeons and staff.
This news follows Governor Lee’s Order 18 last month that ended all non-essential procedures for the time being, and Ballad’s previous announcement earlier this week of setting up a recovery team to work on the matter of reopening.
Deaton said a date on resuming procedures is to be announced.
“The start date of non-emergent procedures will be based on the finalization of our internal plan and also with guidance from the Governor’s Office as we move forward,” he said.
Deaton went on to provide insight into criteria being used to shape their plans. This involved publications from various medical associations. In this criteria, things like timing of re-opening with adequate supplies and staff, access control to entrances and visitations, testing available, universal precautions, personal protective equipment, case prioritization, social distancing procedures and access to pharmacies, play a role in planning.
Once plans have been set in motion for re-opening of procedures, cases will be reviewed for prioritization by a set committee of medical professionals.
He went on to say that the amount of time to catch up all backlogged procedures that have been delayed due to the pandemic is unknown at this time.
“We want to be careful not to push the system too hard too quickly,” he said. “We are looking at this more like turning up a dimmer switch, rather than just flipping on a light. I think we have to be very careful that we don’t overburden our team members and our PPE, that we use it appropriately. I’m sure it will take a matter of weeks, maybe months. We have to be careful to watch for additional COVID-19 cases that could come about.”
Patients going in for elective surgeries will be screened for the virus prior to surgery. Staff is also screened as well. Deaton said to those in fear of contracting the virus during emergency visits and during elective surgeries, that COVID-19 patients are isolated and precautions are in place to keep people safe.
Ballad currently has 13 patients with the virus and also 300 beds designated for future cases.
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