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Following newly released COVID-19 guidelines announced by state and local health officials, Saint John Hospital, a member of Prime Healthcare, has begun scheduling elective surgeries and procedures.

Prashanth Katrapati, MD, FACC, FSCAI, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, said a careful and structured move toward restarting clinical care operations and procedures has begun in order to address the needs of the community and expand access to medical and surgical care. The hospital is following guidelines and a roadmap that were established by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the American College of Surgeons, American Society of Anesthesiologists, Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses and the American Hospital Association.

“The hospital will be carefully monitoring the virus’s ongoing impact to the community and will maintain its ability to properly respond to the coronavirus as we begin serving patients with the essential care they need,” said Dr. Katrapati. “We want to assure our patients and community that we are implementing best practices and will do everything we can to keep them safe.”

A committee of clinical leaders at Saint John was formed to ensure safe resumption of essential health care services, including non-emergent surgeries and procedures. Patients will be screened and tested for COVID-19 prior to any surgery. Steps are taken to minimize any risks and make certain that COVID-19 patients are isolated from non-COVID-19 patients. New policies have been developed and will be reevaluated and reassessed as needed.

In support of continual efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, no visitors will be allowed in the outpatient surgery area. Individuals transporting the patient will be asked to remain in their vehicles and will be notified by phone when the patient is ready for discharge.

Mark Benz, Regional CEO of MOKAN Prime Healthcare, said patient safety remains the highest priority at all Prime hospitals and that supplies of personal protective equipment such as masks, gowns and gloves are more than adequate to treat both COVID-19 patients and those undergoing important elective procedures and surgeries.

“Resuming these important services is essential to our mission of providing quality healthcare to Leavenworth County citizens and we will do so safely and cautiously.” said Paula Ellis, DNP, CARN, NEA-BC, Saint John Chief Executive Officer. “As a health system, Prime remains committed to continual surveillance ensuring that our facilities are safe places for all patients, providers and staff,” said Ellis.

In addition, stay-at-home orders issued by public health agencies make exceptions for those in need of other emergency medical treatments, and the hospital’s Emergency Department remains open for all those seeking emergency care. Following physical distancing guidelines for COVID-19 does not mean ignoring the signs or symptoms of other medical emergencies.

“Those experiencing signs of a heart attack or stroke, for instance, such as difficulty breathing or sudden muscle weakness, should still call 911 or visit the emergency room immediately,” said Dr. Katrapati. “We are well prepared to handle non-COVID emergencies as well as able to deal with an influx of potential COVID-19 cases, and are following all state, local and federal guidelines to safeguard our staff and other patients from exposure.”

Saint John is certified as an Advanced Disease-Specific Care for Acute Stroke Ready Hospital from The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.