With backlog of elective surgeries, Kent Hospital adds Saturday procedures

WARWICK, RI (WLNE) – With elective surgeries continuing throughout Rhode Island after being put on a hiatus to prepare for an influx of coronavirus patients, Kent Hospital is trying to get back on track as they face a backlog of patients.

The hospital has been chipping away at these procedures, all while adapting to patients who are starting to get back to work.

Dr. Melissa Murphy, Interim Chief of Surgery at the hospital, said that when elective surgeries first started up again it was on an outpatient basis only.

Now with coronavirus hospitalizations trending down, surgeons are taking on inpatient procedures.

“Both our hospital numbers correlate with the state numbers and they’re slowly coming down. We feel safe to proceed,” Murphy said. “There is a certain amount of backlog so we’re really trying to make sure that we’re prioritizing those cases and getting those most symptomatic patients in first.”

Dr. Murphy said that the hospital normally would be able to have around 40 beds for inpatient surgeries, but they are working at a lower capacity with about 25-30 beds available.

“Strategically looking how you space those patients out and make sure we have adequate resources for those patients during this time period,” she said. “On a purely elective basis, patients I’m seeing in the office now, I’m booking out as far as August.”

The hospital is also adding an option for Saturday procedures for the first time.

Murphy said Saturdays are usually emergency surgeries only, but doctors are trying to get back on track as quickly as possible.

“Opening up some Saturday hours particularly for some of our surgeons to get through some of that backlog,” Murphy told ABC 6. “And as well as patients starting to go back to work. They’re also looking for some alternative hours to be able to get their cases done because they want to minimize the time they’re taking off of work.”

However, the hospital is prepared in case coronavirus hospitalizations begin to rise again, according to Murphy.

“If we have resurgence I think we have a commitment to take care of those patients. And if they require ICU beds and hospital beds we need to do that,” she said. “The nice thing is we have a free standing outpatient surgery center that’s connected to the hospital. So I do think outpatient surgeries may be able to continue if they’re done in a safe manner.”

Murphy believes if the trend continues downward, it will take doctors another month to catch up on the backlog.

The next step for the hospital is to open up another operating ward to take on more patients.

That’s scheduled for June 8.


Categories: Coronavirus, News, Regional News, Rhode Island