Q. How did you decide to proceed with scheduled surgeries?
A. With each dynamic shift of the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation and its local and federal governments have moved closer to reopening the industries affected by this global event, including healthcare services. HCA Healthcare’s strategies across the organization have been focused on planning and preparing to reinitiate routine patient care services, including procedures and surgeries. Scheduled procedures are not the equivalent of “optional” procedures that can be delayed indefinitely. Defined by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), they have been classified within tiers of urgency and acuity, allowing us to prioritize services as we take a measured approach to this transition. Deferring important medical procedures can result in patients unnecessarily suffering at home, and subsequently seeking care only when their conditions have escalated to a serious state. As we continue to monitor the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic, HCA Healthcare has begun to thoughtfully re-introduce these procedures and surgeries.
Q. How will my experience be different now compared to before COVID-19?
A. Important precautions implemented in the earliest stages of COVID-19 remain in place across our facilities. We continue to limit the number of entrances into facilities, so you will see enhanced wayfinding signage throughout, including entrances and exits. Staff screeners are present at these entrances to ask a series of questions to all individuals arriving at the facility, including questions regarding symptoms and travel history. Social distancing will also affect your experience within our facilities. We currently permit one visitor (screened negative and masked) to accompany patients during procedures. Additionally, virtual visitation exists for all facilities. Common areas such as cafeterias and lobbies have been reconfigured to ensure adequate spacing between visitors and patients. We have also established dedicated units and/or areas within Med Surg/ICU/Units/ER for COVID-19 patients, minimizing any risk to others coming in to our facility.
Q. Is it safe to return to your facility? How can I be sure the room, the x-ray machine, the OR, the recovery room are safe?
A. Because we deal with infectious diseases on a daily basis, we are uniquely equipped to manage COVID-19 safely within our clinical facilities. Elevated cleaning measures, constant housekeeping, access to alcohol-based hand gel, and regular sanitation are all a part of the daily routines at these sites of care. In addition to these precautions, we ensure a safe care environment in our hospitals by employing additional enhanced protections, ensuring to protect all patients, visitors and staff from exposure to infectious diseases like COVID-19. These protections include universal masking, comprehensive screening, escorting patients to their procedures to reduce risk of exposure, and treating all COVID-19 patients in an isolated area of the hospital.
Q. Will I be around other patients who have COVID-19 or suspected of having the virus?
A. Our facilities are currently isolating COVID-19 patients in separate areas and units. This means that COVID-19 patients remain separated from other patients and are cared for by a dedicated team of clinicians, preventing the spread of the virus to other patients seeking care. Our locations are also equipped with rapid testing, and require universal masking of everyone in the facility. Separate entrances have also been designated to help monitor and control access.