RI hospitals begin elective surgeries this week
The health care system in Rhode Island is slowly getting back on track as Lifespan, Kent Hospital, and Westerly Hospital will resume elective surgeries this week.
During the coronavirus pandemic, surgeries were only performed in emergency situations, with elective surgeries, where patients can hold off, were temporarily suspended.
Lifespan and Care New England sent proposals to the governor on how they will operate once these elective procedures started up again.
The two proposals were accepted and the procedures began this week.
“Throughout this time period we’ve been doing emergency surgeries and semi-urgent cases such as cancer cases. But we suspended surgeries such as gall bladder surgeries hernias,” said Dr. William Cioffi, Chief of Surgery for Lifespan.
Dr. Cioffi said the procedures being done are on an outpatient basis only to reserve hospital beds for COVID-19 patients.
“These are things that are meant to improve quality of life. So these are not aesthetic plastic surgeries things like that. These are things that the symptoms that the patients are having affect their daily life,” he said. “Patients that come into the hospital have their operation or their procedure and then go home a few hours later.”
Before patients even come to the hospital for their operations, Dr. Cioffi said they go through a rigorous screening to make sure everyone is safe.
“All patients are being screened by telephone first. All patients are being tested for COVID within 72 hours of their operation,” he said. “And then we bring them into a part of the hospital where we have not taken care of COVID patients in.”
Meanwhile at Kent Hospital, it’s a similar process, according to Dr. Melissa Murphy, Interim Chief of Surgery.
She said once the patients get tested they are asked to quarantine for the 72 hours prior to coming into the hospital.
“One of those triggers for us to start elective surgeries is to make sure we have adequate PPE supplies. If we don’t have adequate PPE supplies we would definitely start to pull back,” she said. “Asked each of our surgeons to categorize their surgeries based on kind of a priority level scoring. So we’re beginning with what we’re calling our priority one cases.”
Murphy said that although the phased-in approach was approved by the state, the hospital is continuing to monitor the situation and adapt if necessary.
“Continuously reevaluating. I think one of the things we don’t know is the uncertainty of COVID,” she said. “And as the state and other areas begin to open up a little bit, what’s that going to look like if things start to surge again.”
Dr. Murphy is assuring patients that it is safe to go to the hospital on an outpatient basis to have the procedures performed.
Westerly Hospital said they will begin performing elective surgeries Wednesday.
According to Dr. Murphy and Dr. Cioffi, the next step will be performing surgeries that will require an inpatient stay, as there are areas of the hospital where people can recover that did not have COVID-19 patients in.