Published on April 29, 2020
OH Following Guidelines for Reopening Services
As we begin reopening healthcare services across the Owensboro Health System, our first priority is keeping our team members and patients safe. To ensure this, we’re enacting extra safeguards to prevent exposure to COVID-19. Services will only be reopened in phases, allowing a slow and gradual increase of patients entering facilities.
Most policies requested by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, such as having patients wait in their cars instead of a traditional waiting room, are already in place. We’re also screening all patients the day prior to their procedure and requiring everyone to wear a mask.
Our healthy at work protocol includes detailed steps to follow while treating our patients, and updates as we move through the reopening phases.
Specific safeguards include:
Qualifiers for reopening elective procedures
Owensboro Health Hospitals must maintain the ability to support both elective procedures and a rapid increase in COVID-19 patients. As such, they must have the ability to meet the demands of a 30 percent patient surge, including having available beds, ICU and ventilator capacity.
The Health System will have 14 days worth of personal protective equipment on hand to support the hospitals and clinics.
- Continue to use telehealth as the situation permits rather than in-person services
- No visitors except for end-of-life, vulnerable populations, minors, etc.
- Use of non-traditional waiting room alternatives (waiting in cars)
- Maintain physical distancing of at least six feet
- In high-touch clinical settings, healthcare workers must wear non-latex gloves in addition to enhanced hand hygiene practices and all objects/contact surfaces will be sanitized between patients.
A COVID-19 Steering Committee will prioritize procedures, interpret and create policies, monitor situational data, make real-time decisions and communicate messaging. The committee has representation from surgery, anesthesia, proceduralist, nursing, ancillary testing and administration.
All facilities will test patients prior to undergoing a procedure or surgery. They will also adhere to CDC guidelines by screening everyone for fever and COVID-19 symptoms before they enter the facility. Everyone, including visitors, will be required to wear a face covering regardless of symptoms.
To prevent the spread of the virus from asymptomatic individuals, physical distancing is required throughout the Health System. Barriers will be installed at reception and triage areas to limit contact with patients. Waiting areas will be configured to allow for physical distancing, but OH will use non-traditional approaches to patient waiting (such as waiting in vehicles) when possible. Only incapacitated or pediatric patients may be accompanied by a visitor and we will continue to use telehealth whenever possible.
Case Prioritization and Scheduling
The COVID-19 Steering Committee will prioritize outpatient surgical cases, making considerations for previously cancelled or postponed cases, the need for PPE and its availability, specialists’ prioritization and operating room availability.
Healthcare personnel will be screened for fever and symptoms of COVID-19 before each shift. They will be required to wear appropriate PPE at all times when in the facility and OH will provide job-specific training for proper use of PPE.
Phases of reopening:
- Phase One: End of April/First of May - beginning April 27
Resume diagnostic radiology and laboratory services, as well as non-emergent and ambulatory visits. Pre-anesthesia testing services will also restart in preparation for surgery resuming.
- Phase Two: Second full week of May - beginning May 11
Owensboro Health System will resume outpatient/ambulatory procedures and surgery, contingent on testing ability, PPE levels and available beds for a possible surge of COVID-19 patients. All patients will be tested before procedures or surgery.
- Phase Three: Fourth week of May - beginning May 25
If Phases One and Two are successful and there is a low or manageable amount of COVID-19 hospitalizations, Owensboro Health will resume inpatient procedures at the discretion of the COVID-19 Steering Committee.
- Phase Four: First week of June - beginning June 1
If Phases One, Two and Three are successful and there is a low or manageable amount of COVID-19 hospitalizations, Owensboro Health will resume inpatient procedures at pre-COVID isolation levels.
Please understand that at any point there is significant change in the number or trajectory of COVID-19 cases, the timeline may change.
About Owensboro Health
Owensboro Health is a nonprofit health system with a mission to heal the sick and to improve the health of the communities it serves in Kentucky and Indiana. The system includes Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, nationally recognized for design, architecture and engineering; Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital; Owensboro Health Twin Lakes Medical Center; the Owensboro Health Medical Group comprised of over 200 providers at more than 20 locations; three outpatient Healthplex facilities, a certified medical fitness facility, the Healthpark; a surgical weight loss center and program, and the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center.
On average each year, we have 16,000 inpatient admissions, deliver 2,000 babies and provide the region’s only Level III NICU. Owensboro Health physicians perform nearly 24,000 surgical procedures, including nearly 200 open-heart surgeries. Our physicians and staff have 70,000 Emergency Department visits, more than a million outpatient visits annually. Visit our home page for more information.