The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) allowed hospitals across the state to resume elective procedures on Monday, May 11 once certain requirements related to patient and staff safety and availability of PPE and equipment were met. Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH) met all of the IDPH guidelines and began resuming elective procedures that day.
Cases are prioritized and scheduled by the individual departments. Leadership from each department provides details to physicians and staff about how many patients per week may be scheduled. Prioritization is based on patient need and on the number of COVID-19 testing kits available to the NCH system.
Whenever possible, appointments are staggered to allow for social distancing in waiting, exam and procedure areas. Typical tests and procedures NCH is starting with include mammograms, colonoscopies, knee replacements, sleep studies and interventional procedures. The goal is to ramp up to full capacity over several weeks, to ensure that processes are effective and employees and patients are safe. The first week, the goal was to operate at 50 percent capacity, and that capacity is increasing each subsequent week.
“Everyone can be assured that all NCH facilities adhere to CDC and IDPH requirements for patient safety, and that it is safe to come to our facilities for emergency or urgent care and for needed elective procedures,” said Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of NCH Dr. Alan Loren.
Patients that are scheduled to undergo certain elective procedures in an operational or procedure area may require a COVID-19 negative test per the requirements from the Illinois Department of Public Health. If indicated, you will be informed at the time of scheduling and it will need to be performed within 3 days of your procedure. Those patients will be directed to a facility parking lot and wait in the queue to drive through and receive a test. After the test, you will be required to self-isolate at home until the time of your procedure.
The test result is part of the pre-procedural clearance. If the patient tests positive, their surgical procedure will be deferred and they will be contacted directly regarding their COVID-19 care. If they test negative, they will continue the normal pre-procedural process. Even with a negative test, patients should not present for their procedure if they have any of the following symptoms: temperature is 100.0F or greater, runny nose, nasal congestion, loss of taste/smell, cough, shortness of breath, diarrhea or sore throat.
NCH is taking an abundance of caution to keep everyone safe. For all adult patient procedures, visitors will not be allowed in the facility but will be communicated with remotely during the procedure and will be informed when they may return to pick up the patient. Pediatric patients may have one adult visitor in the facility throughout the time of the procedure who must wear a face mask while in the facility.
All patients and visitors older than two years old should come to the hospital with a face mask if available. If one is not available, NCH will provide one.
In consideration of all guests, patients and staff, NCH is utilizing proper cleaning protocol between patients in exam rooms, procedure rooms and waiting areas. This includes maintaining social distance between waiting room chairs and patients standing in line. Hand sanitizer and masks (cloth or procedure) will be available at each entry for patients, visitors and vendors.