West Michigan hospitals move to restart surgeries

Coronavirus

HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Some West Michigan hospitals are moving to resume surgeries and other procedures that had been suspended as part of efforts to combat the coronavirus.

Concerns over the spread of COVID-19 and the availability of supplies lead to a reduction in services.

But some procedures like surgeries and endoscopy, as well as expanding appointments for imaging studies, are now being scheduled.

In a number of those cases, what was elective before the pandemic has become more urgent.

“Those patients’ problems may have increased in acuity by this point, so a lot of those patients are being reevaluated by their physicians and surgeons, and their care is being expedited at this point as needed,” said Dr. Susan Ervine, chief of staff at Holland Hospital.

Everyone entering Holland Hospital will have their temperature taken and will be screened for symptoms and exposure, as well as provided with whatever PPE they may need. Everyone will wear a mask and must adhere to social distancing.

Metro Health – University of Michigan Health said it would start doing some surgeries and allow limited in-person patient visits.

There will be protocols in place to minimize contact between people, including a limited number of people in an office at one time. Outpatients will have contactless check-in and will wait in their cars until it’s time to see the doctor. Patients will have to wear masks.

“We are always here to serve the health needs of all our patients – that does not change, even in the face of a pandemic,” Dr. Rakesh Pai, executive vice president and chief population health officer for Metro, said in a statement. “In fact, it is more important than ever to pay attention to your health when we are facing this global threat. We are pleased to be able to safely resume in-person care with new precautions in place.”

Both hospitals noted restrictions for visitors remain in place.

Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo has also resumed services.

“We are going through a priority process from the most urgent to the least urgent and eventually into electives over the next weeks,” said Dr. Aaron Lane-Davies, Bronson Medical Group’s Chief of Quality.

Spectrum Health said it’s still reviewing some surgeries that were put off to determine whether they should be performed. It has not yet set a schedule for resuming elective procedures.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Spectrum Health has been caring for all patients needing urgent or emergency care and has performed hundreds of such procedures during the past several weeks as needed. For example, we continue to perform cancer surgeries where tumors are removed. Patients needing chemotherapy and radiation therapy continue receiving their scheduled treatments. As always, we are performing life-saving procedures such as heart bypass surgery and are performing interventions on stoke victims where the clot is removed. In addition, our transplant programs remain fully operational.”

“The efforts of our community to practice social distancing and good hand hygiene have helped control the spread of COVID-19. We’re prepared to meet the demands of COVID-19 and continue to very closely monitor the number of positive cases in our area. At the same time, Spectrum Health providers are reviewing deferred surgeries, procedures and radiology studies to determine if they should be performed at this time to ensure a patient’s health, safety or welfare given their health status.”

Spectrum Health

Health officials have also reminded people that if they need emergency medical care, like if they think they’re having a heart attack or stroke, they should still seek help right away.

Health care systems across the state suspended all nonurgent surgeries to make sure they would have room for coronavirus patients in the event of a spike and to limit hospital populations to slow the spread of the virus. But elective procedures account for much of hospitals’ business, so without them, revenue has been declining. That has led many to lay off staff.

Service reductions at Holland Hospital lead to temporary layoffs.

Bronson Methodist saw a 50% reduction in revenues.

But is there a financial consideration on the hospital’s part to resume services?

“Not at all. The financial piece of it is something we’ll be dealing with for a long time,” said Holland Hospital’s Ervine.

“Certainly, those two things are connected to one another, but the financial is not driving the clinical,” said Bronson’s Lane-Davies.”The clinical is really the result of our ability to safely offer care in the community.”

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