Following newly released COVID-19 guidelines announced by state and local health officials, St. Joseph Medical Center plans to resume most of its services by the by the end of May, including elective surgeries and procedures.  Although things will look different at the hospital, the necessary precautions are being put into place to keep patients and staff safe.

 The hospital is also urging those community members who have put off seeking medical care for their urgent healthcare needs unrelated to COVID-19 to not ignore their signs or symptoms due to fear and uncertainty about the hospital’s safety. 

“We want to reassure our community members that we have implemented numerous additional protocols to ensure the health and safety of our patients, visitors and our clinical teams,” says Jodi Fincher, CEO. “We are here to take care of our community and are well-equipped to handle any health concerns they may have. They can move forward with peace of mind in scheduling appointments or visiting our emergency room.”

In addition to its routine rigorous standards for sanitation and prevention that earned the hospital the highest “A” rating in recent Leapfrog scores, St. Joseph Medical Center is also following new guidelines established by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the American College of Surgeons, American Society of Anesthesiologists, Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses and the American Hospital Association. A committee of physicians and other clinical leaders at St. Joseph Medical Center was also formed to ensure safe resumption of essential health care services, including non-emergency surgeries and procedures.

“We want to pledge to our patients and community that we are implementing best practices and will do everything we can to keep them safe,” Fincher says. “The hospital will carefully monitor the coronavirus’s ongoing impact to the community, and we will maintain our ability to properly respond to it while also serving other patients with the essential care they need.”

The hospital’s enhanced precautions to ensure a safe environment for health care delivery include:

  • All patients and visitors must pass through a hospital screening station where temperatures are taken prior to entering the building. 
  • COVID-19 patients are isolated from non-COVID-19 patients.  All patients are tested for COVID-19 prior to any surgery.
  • Non-COVID-19 patients, as well as those receiving outpatient care, or patients with scheduled procedures, are treated in separate areas and are assigned caregivers who are not concurrently caring for COVID-19 positive patients.
  • Updated visitor policies, including limitations, remain in place. Surgery patients are allowed one visitor to the hospital to accompany them to the waiting area.
  • Universal masking is required throughout the facility which exceeds CDC guidelines.
  • The hospital continues to have adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for patients, visitors, clinicians and caregivers.
  • Heightened infection prevention policies have been instituted, including removal of high-touch items such as magazines from the facilities.
  • Technology-enabled solutions that minimize patients’ time in waiting areas are being advanced.
  • Collaboration with major commercial lab companies to increase testing onsite is ongoing.

“We have been thoughtful and deliberate in carefully preparing for the re-opening of many postponed services,” Fincher adds. “St. Joseph Medical Center has maintained historically strict standards for infectious diseases while following updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to ensure the safety of all. We continue to monitor the numbers closely in our area to ensure our protocols follow the data and can quickly respond to any potential resurgence.

Fincher adds that everyone should continue to follow current CDC guidance regarding social distancing and hand hygiene.

“As we re-open our cities and work to establish a new normal routine, I especially want to thank our community leaders for their guidance during this unprecedented challenge and for standing with St. Joseph Medical Center in our shared commitment to protect our health and safety, today and every day.”

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