The coronavirus pandemic required an integrated, coordinated response from all of Lifespan, working with our partners at the Rhode Island Department of Health. Part of that response included postponing all elective procedures and some semi-urgent procedures.

We took these steps out of an abundance of caution to protect both our patients and hospital staff and to provide capacity for a potential surge of patients with COVID-19 infections needing hospitalization.

Now, as hospitalizations begin to decline and Rhode Island slowly begins the process of carefully “reopening,” we are doing the same at Lifespan.

Safety first

The safety of our patients and staff remains our highest priority. We recognize that many of the elective procedures that were deferred are semi-urgent and need to be done to preserve health, manage pain and optimize quality of life for our patients.

With that in mind, we are now beginning to reschedule those procedures that were postponed due to the pandemic. To do so, our surgical, infectious diseases and infection prevention teams developed a plan to allow us to return to providing some surgical procedures. This plan was approved by the Rhode Island Department of Health and is specifically designed to ensure that patients will be cared for in the safest, COVID-19-free settings.

In order to resume surgeries at our hospitals, we have taken numerous steps for ensuring our patients’ safety:

  • We have full infection control processes in place that will remain in effect throughout all departments.
  • We have established separate, dedicated areas within each of our hospitals that will serve as “non-COVID zones.” Only patients who have tested negative will be admitted into these zones.
  • Staff members throughout Lifespan continue to be screened for symptoms.
  • All patients scheduled for an elective procedure will be tested for COVID-19 prior to the procedure, with the results available before the day of the procedure.
  • Patients who have a positive COVID-19 test, or those who are unwell will be identified before coming to the hospital and they will be rescheduled for when they have fully recovered and are no longer a risk for spreading the COVID-19 infection.
  • All patients and employees will wear face-masks whenever they enter our facilities.

Types of procedures

We will be resuming non-urgent surgery, endoscopy, interventional cardiovascular procedures, interventional radiology, interventional pain, and minimally invasive spine surgery, along with the services needed to support these specialty areas.

The decisions as to which patients will be scheduled for surgery will be made by taking into consideration the patient’s benefits and risks, without regard to age, gender, race, ethnicity, or insurance status. Cases will be triaged by those that were previously cancelled or postponed and decision making will be shared by the patient, family and referring providers.

We know this has been a difficult time for our community, our hospitals and the entire world. Together we will get through this. For more information on surgical services, visit our website.

William Cioffi, MD

William G. Cioffi, MD, FACS, is the surgeon-in-chief at The Miriam and Rhode Island hospitals. He is also the J. Murray Beardsley Professor and chairman of the department of surgery at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Dr. Cioffi's clinical expertise and research interests are in the areas of pancreatic, oncologic, colorectal and trauma surgery.