The New Hanover Regional Medical Center system plans to reopen the first phase of surgical services and diagnostic testing on Monday, May 4, 2020.
The plan is based on a phased, calculated approach guided by a dozen metrics that serve as a guide to safely reopen services.
“Throughout our preparation and response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the safety of our patients, staff, providers and community has been central to every decision we make,” said Philip Brown, MD, NHRMC Chief Physician Executive.
“In recent weeks, NHRMC has focused on increasing clinical capacity, bolstering PPE supplies and developing staffing models and alternate space plans to handle a possible influx of patients according to predictive COVID-19 models. Based on our framework, we are confident it is safe to begin our phased approach of reopening services.”
On March 20, NHRMC announced it was postponing non-essential surgeries to allow the health system greater flexibility to ensure staffing, space and resources were available as part of proactive decision-making and preparation for impacts from COVID-19. The measures, in addition to mandatory visitor restrictions, also limited the number of people who entered patient care spaces for their safety and the safety of other patients and staff.
Since then, operating rooms have been available at the NHRMC 17th Street campus and the NHRMC Orthopedic Hospital for essential procedures.
Meanwhile, some procedures that were not urgent a month ago are becoming more urgent, which reinforces the need to begin the phased reopening to best care for patients.
“We could not safely reopen without a plan in place that allows us to pause or reverse our plans, and our framework provides an early warning if we need to make any modifications for an imminent surge of patients,” said West Paul, MD, PhD, NHRMC Chief Clinical Officer. “We continue to closely monitor the situation and remain prepared to respond to a sudden outbreak in our region.”
NHRMC has implemented expansive safety measures across its facilities to prevent the possible spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19. These include the use of sophisticated isolation rooms, taking temperature screenings of employees and providers prior to starting work, mandatory visitor restrictions, diligent use of personal protective equipment, and strict cleaning protocols.
In accordance with NHRMC's visitor restrictions, patients scheduled for a surgery or procedure may have one person accompany them during registration and pick them up following treatment. This support person will not be able to wait in the hospital facility.
Patients whose procedures or tests were postponed should contact their care provider for questions if they have any questions or concerns, including worsening symptoms.