Consistent with federal guidelines, Northern Regional Hospital will resume select patient-care services, including elective surgeries and procedures, beginning May 1, 2020 – as part of the initial phase of its “Resumption of Services & Restriction Phase-Out” plan.
The physician-led, multi-phase plan is designed to carefully re-awaken all elements of the hospital’s services over the course of the next several weeks and months. “It’s a fairly fluid plan; and, as we move from one phase to the next, we will continue to monitor all aspects of the plan to ensure the safety of our patients, staff and visitors,” said Dr. Scott Corbin, Chair of the hospital’s Medical Executive Committee (MEC) and Chief of Staff. “The care of our patients is our top priority; and any decision to re-open services will involve a review of all relevant data and numerous discussions among the entire medical team and the hospital’s executive leadership,” he added.
“Phase One of our plan includes resuming elective surgeries and procedures, relaxing visitation policy to one caregiver per patient, and resuming Saturday clinic hours at Northern Family Medicine and Northern Pediatrics,” explains Dr. Jason Edsall, Chief Medical Officer of Northern Regional Hospital. “During this time, we will continue to screen patients and visitors at the two entrances, as we are doing now. We will also continue the universal mask usage and daily temperature/symptom screening for all hospital employees.”
Phase Two of the hospital’s “Resumption of Services & Restriction Phase-Out” plan includes re-opening Northern Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, re-opening all public entrances, eliminating visitor and employee screenings, and removing the masking requirement for employees and visitors.
“These considerations will be continually monitored and re-evaluated by the MEC and Leadership Team, with adjustments being made to phases and dates, as necessary, in the event of an increase in positive COVID-19 cases and state/federal directives,” emphasized Dr. Corbin.
The final phase of the plan involves the restoration of the Volunteer Program and routine operations within the Skilled Nursing Unit.
Orthopedic surgeon Rob Williamson, MD, is looking forward to once again serving patients who had to postpone their procedures during the months of March and April. “A patient waiting on a knee replacement or other orthopedic procedure still has a need for such and will be very eager to have their surgery completed,” he said. “We have a six-week backlog of patients waiting for their procedures; and our schedulers will be reaching out to all those patients. We remain grateful for the continued understanding and patience of our patients.”
D. Nelson Gardner, MD, Primary Care Service Line Medical Director, also welcomes a gradual and controlled return to normal operations. “It is now time to move forward and begin reopening the hospital to elective procedures, visitation, and start building towards full operations,” he said.
“The case load of COVID in our area has remained low, the number of cases in North Carolina has peaked at a low number compared to states with similar populations and urban and rural areas, and has been trending down for days,” he continued. “The curve has been flattened and in Surry County and surrounding areas has never peaked, and by any predictive model will not unless drastic changes to the virus or our behavior occur. I am completely confident telling my patients and friends that one of the safest places to be in the area right now is in our hospital or clinics, with regards to risk of coronavirus exposure. We will be vigilant every second of every day as it concerns the safety and treatment of our patients in our facilities.”
A Team Effort
Indeed, in addition to normal cleaning procedures and schedules, the hospital’s Environmental Services staff has tripled its cleaning protocols for elevator buttons, doorknobs, handrails and other frequently touched surfaces. The staff has also positioned extra hand-sanitizer dispensers and sanitizer pump bottles throughout the hospital.
“We are pleased that our unified team effort has thus far yielded very favorable results,” said Chris A. Lumsden, FACHE, President and Chief Executive Officer of Northern Regional Hospital. “During the last couple of months, we have been transparent with our COVID-19 preparedness plans. While we have been focused on protecting our patients and staff, we have also been carefully and thoughtfully planning for the day that we might resume somewhat normal operations. We are now pleased to announce that our comprehensive “Resumption of Services” plan will begin on May 1.”