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Hospital to resume outpatient surgeries, elective procedures

Merit Health River Region announced Monday that patients who have delayed surgery or other non-emergency procedures can now work with their physicians to schedule outpatient surgeries and elective procedures.

The hospital is following Gov. Tate Reeves’ Executive Order allowing some elective surgeries and procedures in hospitals with a low or no-COVID-19 census.

“As we reopen elective procedures, our physicians and caregivers are working diligently to keep every patient safe,” said Dr. Sam Pierce, Merit Health River Region’s Chief of Medical Staff. “It is important to reschedule healthcare procedures that have been delayed so health conditions do not deteriorate. We also want to remind everyone that it is safe — and necessary — to seek immediate help in an emergency department for serious health emergencies like chest pain, heart attacks, strokes and other life-threatening conditions.”

In its release Monday, the hospital said numerous precautions for infection prevention, access control, social distancing and patient flow are in place to maintain a safe environment of care. Everyone who enters the building, including staff, is screened, and all employees, physicians and patients are expected to wear masks.

The daily number of procedures performed is being limited and furniture in waiting areas has been spaced to maintain appropriate social distancing. Cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces and caregiving spaces has been intensified. Visitor restrictions for inpatients remain in effect, with exceptions for laboring mothers, pediatric patients, and end-of-life situations.

Non-COVID-19-care zones have been defined in the hospital, where patients who are screened as negative for COVID-19 will receive care from dedicated staff. If, and when, the hospital is caring for COVID-19 positive patients, those patients are grouped together in the same unit away from all other patients.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our patients’ and caregivers’ health and safety have been our primary concern,” Merit Health River Region CEO Ben Richaud said. “We are ramping up slowly to ensure safety for everyone. Patients can be assured that we are taking every precaution to protect them.”

The hospital continues to closely monitor its inventory of test kits, personal protective equipment, medications and other needed supplies to ensure sufficient resources to support the number of patients in care.

The hospital’s plan to restart elective procedures was made in consultation with the board of trustees, medical executive committee and surgical leadership and follows all local, state and federal guidelines.