Lifespan Resumes Elective Surgical Procedures

May 11, 2020
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Safety First: Resuming Elective Surgery and Procedures

Our surgical, infectious diseases and infection prevention teams developed a plan specifically designed to ensure that patients will be cared for in the safest, COVID-19-free settings. William Cioffi, MD, surgeon-in-chief at Rhode Island and The Miriam hospitals, explains the steps we are taking to keep patients and staff safe. 

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New health and safety protocols are in place to ensure that patients will be cared for in the safest, COVID-19-free settings.

Following a decline in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 infections, Lifespan has lifted restrictions on scheduling elective surgical procedures that were closed due to the coronavirus outbreak in Rhode Island. Lifespan is now offering access to a limited number of semi-urgent procedures for patients on a case-by-case basis. 

“Many of the elective procedures that were deferred are semi-urgent and need to be available to preserve health, manage pain and optimize quality of life for our patients,” said Dr. William Cioffi, surgeon-in-chief at Rhode Island and The Miriam hospitals. “Safety remains Lifespan’s highest priority and we will continually assess this policy to ensure the highest level of care for all patients.”

Types of Procedures

The procedures that Lifespan has resumed includes non-urgent surgery, endoscopy, interventional cardiovascular procedures, interventional radiology, interventional pain, and minimally invasive spine procedures. Lifespan is scheduling individual patients as permissible based on resources and capacity. 

What to Expect

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 rescheduled except in cases requiring emergency surgery. In addition, patients will be screened in advance for “flu-like symptoms” on the day of the procedure, and will be masked upon entering any Lifespan facility. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Choose a question below for more information.

How sure can you be that patients won't contract this virus when they come to the hospital for surgery? What safety measures will patients notice? 

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 rescheduled except in cases requiring emergency surgery. In addition, patients will be screened in advance for “flu-like symptoms” and will be masked upon entering any Lifespan facility.

We also have all patients mask on entry and all employees do the same. We maintain social distancing in any waiting rooms and elective surgery patients spend their entire stay in areas where we do not place COVID+ patients (e.g., pre-op, intra operative and post-operative areas). There are no visitors allowed with the elective surgery patients and all employees are screened on entry. 

Is there sufficient testing capability? Is there enough PPE for medical staff and other hospital workers?

Yes. We made the decision to resume scheduling specific elective procedures following a review of its COVID-19 testing capacity, infection control measures, patient census, and overall resource capacity, including PPE. Safety remains Lifespan’s highest priority and we will continually assess this policy to ensure the highest level of care for all patients, and will again postpone scheduling these procedures if needed.

What priority will be given to procedures? Obviously, a breast cancer surgery would take precedence over a routine colonoscopy. How is this decided?

Lifespan is resuming a limited number of elective procedures for patients on a case-by-case basis. These types of procedures include surgery, endoscopy, interventional cardiovascular procedures, interventional radiology, interventional pain, and minimally invasive spine procedures.  We are scheduling individual patients as permissible based on resources and capacity. 

The decisions as to which patients will be scheduled for surgery will be made by taking into consideration the patient’s benefits and risks of performing or postponing the procedure. Cases are triaged with consideration of those that were previously cancelled or postponed and decision making is shared by the patient, family and referring providers. No consideration of payer status, race, ethnicity or gender enters into the decision-making process.

Will family members be allowed to accompany surgery patients?

Family members will be able to transport patients to and from the hospital. Family members are not allowed in the hospital unless it is clinically necessary (e.g., parent/guardian of a child)

Will there be dedicated entrances/parking lots for patients?

All patients scheduled for elective procedures are provided with instructions on which entrance to use when coming to the hospital for their procedure.

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