WHEELING, WV (WTRF) – On Tuesday, Wheeling Hospital received the OK from the WV Department of Health and Human Resources, Office of Inspector General, to resume urgent elective medical procedures. Cases are beginning this week.
It was five weeks ago that the hospital suspended non-emergent, non-urgent, and in-person medical and surgical care due to growing concerns for the safety of patients and health care workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
To begin phase one of reopening services, Wheeling Hospital completed an application that was submitted to the Office of Health Facility Licensure and Certification through WVU Medicine.
Douglass Harrison, Wheeling Hospital CEO, said, “While this is good news that we are able to begin the recovery phase and ease back into performing non-emergent cases at our hospitals, it does not mean we are out of the woods just yet. We must continue to be diligent and follow the CDC and state’s guidelines regarding this virus. Our main goal at Wheeling Hospital is the safety and well-being of our patients and staff. In partnership with our physicians, we will ease back into our new normal.”
Urgent elective procedures to be performed will be determined by a committee that includes the chief of surgery, anesthesiologists and other members of the perioperative services team.
“Our goal is to keep the surgical patients, their family members and their loved ones safe during their time in the hospital,” said Kareen Simon, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “The surgical schedule follows the guidelines established by the State of West Virginia along with recommendations from the American College of Surgeons.”
Several restrictions regarding those accompanying patients for procedures will be in place.
· Visitors accompanying surgical patients are being asked to not wait in the outpatient surgery waiting room.
ü They may wait in their cars in designated areas of the parking lot. If they choose to do this, their contact information will be collected at the time that they drop off the patient. They will be given a sign that is to be placed on their dashboard identifying them as an outpatient surgery visitor. If they are leaving hospital property during the procedure, they will not be given a sign.
ü The only exception to this rule is if the patient is a minor or unable to legally sign their own consent. If two parents are accompanying a minor, only one parent is allowed in the waiting room at a time. The parents may switch off at any time during the visit.
· Upon arrival, the contact information of the visitor and/or the person taking the patient home after the procedure is collected.
· Patients should bring all appropriate insurance information into the hospital upon arrival.
· The contact person will be asked to keep their cell phone on and to answer the call even if they do not recognize the number. The surgeon will be calling them post-procedure to give an update. They will also be called when the patient is ready to be discharged. They are also asked to not block any calls from unknown contacts.
· All those entering the facility must wear masks. All patients and visitors are encouraged to bring their masks from home.
· All surgical center patients are to enter through the doors designated for outpatient surgery.
General visitation restrictions put in place when the outbreak began will continue for the time being. In addition, all visitors to the hospital are required to wear a face mask.
“We have no immediate plans to change, relax or end the restrictions for visitors at our hospitals and clinics, even as we start to ramp up our day-to-day operations,” said Simon. “These restrictions remain in full force until there is more evidence that the pandemic is winding down. While we realize this is not an ideal situation, it is in everyone’s best interest.”
· Visitation permitted only in Labor & Delivery (1 visitor per patient per day); Pediatrics (2 visitors per patient per day to allow mom and dad to visit); and critical care (1 visitor per patient per day).
· No visitors under the age of 18.
· Visitors who do not feel well should reconsider their visit.
· No visitors at the Continuous Care Center.
· Acuity has suspended visitation at both Wheeling and Belmont sites.
· All requests for exceptions must be made by health care providers or nursing leadership.
· Those requests must be limited to the following: end-of-life decisions, pediatrics, obstetrics, deaf patients, low mental capacity, or other extraordinary circumstances approved by incident command or hospital leadership.