Message from SCMC Chief of Staff, Dr. Jason Huikko
5/12/2020: The governor and Minnesota Department of Health recently released guidance on how healthcare facilities could resume elective procedures beginning May 11, 2020. Stevens Community Medical Center has developed a protocol and plan based on this guidance and has begun to phase in elective surgeries and procedures. Some of the recommendations and requirements in the guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health include:
1. Health screenings of all staff at the beginning of each shift.
2. Everyone in the facility wearing a source-control mask.
3. Ensuring adequate supply of personal protective equipment not only for the procedure but also to respond to any surge in COVID-19 cases.
4. Ensuring adequate staffing to be able to respond to any increase in COVID-19 cases.
5. COVID-19 testing of patients prior to a planned elective procedures/surgery, this also includes self-isolation of the patient at home from the time of the COVID-19 test until their surgery.
These actions are taken to continue to protect patients and staff from COVID-19 infection to the best of our ability while continuing to provide medical care and to ensure that the facility remains ready to respond to any surge in COVID-19 cases in our community. The surgical staff/schedulers will work with providers and patients on scheduling surgeries/procedures and ensuring needed steps are completed. If a patient tests positive for COVID-19 or the pre-op test is not completed on time their procedure will be postponed. Surgeries and procedures may also be postponed or rescheduled on short notice if there is any change in conditions or availability of supplies.
We have also been able to increase the number of COVID-19 tests we are completing at SCMC which is important at this time as we are beginning to see a rise in COVID-19 cases in the surrounding areas. We are currently working to test all symptomatic patients and actively work with patients who have a potential exposure in determining if a test is needed. Due to our increase in COVID-19 testing, we are repurposing our alternative lab site to complete these COVID-19 tests. This allows us to complete these swabs efficiently for patients that otherwise do not require a medical evaluation within the facility. We continue to evaluate patients with COVID-19 symptoms in our respiratory area of the clinic as well as the emergency department depending on severity of symptoms.
As the pandemic continues to evolve and more sources of information about COVID-19 have become available we have seen a decrease in the number of calls to our COVID-19 hotline. Due to this decrease in call volume the hotline has been discontinued. Patients are encouraged to still reach out to their primary care provider if they have any questions or concerns about COVID-19. We remain grateful to everyone for the actions they are taking to help our community come through this pandemic as best we can.
-Jason Huikko, M.D.