Updated: Hospitals begin phased in return to elective procedures as losses mount

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Delaware’s hospitals are moving toward elective surgeries and other procedures as Delaware approaches its Phase 1 opening plan on June 1.The news comes as Delaware Healthcare Association President Wayne Smith noted that the hospital’s all hands on deck response to the coronavirus crisis led to big losses.

In a release from the Delaware House Republican Caucus, Smith, a former GOP legislator, stated that monthly losses total $170 million a month at the state’s hospitals.

Under guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and emergency orders from governors, hospitals around the nation stopped elective procedures, leading to a sharp loss in revenues. Hospital workers have also been deployed as coronavirus testing is stepped up throughout the state.

ChristianaCare, the state’s largest health care system reported it had to halt testing early at Glasgow High School south of Newark due to heavy demand. ChristianaCare did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its plans.

While hospitals continued emergency surgeries, there have been concerns that people in need of care did not come forward to fearing conditions in hospitals that were geared to treat COVID-19.

Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic announced that Saint Francis Healthcare, Wilmington and other hospitals in the Delaware Valleyare tentatively scheduled to resume select services and surgeries. The date for Saint Francis’ opening is May 26.

Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic hospitals are implementing COVID-Free Zones limited to people without symptoms.

Additionally, all hospital patients will be tested for COVID-19 prior to a procedure or surgery.

Seaford-based Nanticoke, now a part of Salisbury’s Peninsula health system, urged those with symptoms of all types to seek treatment. Cited were the dangers of delaying treatment for possible strokes, heart attacks, and other conditions.

In New Castle County, a high volume of ambulance calls was reported on one recent weekend, with at least some cases related to treatment for non-COVID 19 conditions.

Beebe Healthcare CEO, Dr. David Tam also announced efforts to move forward on elective procedures. Tan, a former Navy commander, also acknowledged that the hospital system continues to fight a “two-front” war that will include the coronavirus pandemic and phasing in elective surgeries.

Beebe is based in Lewes and recently opened an outpatient campus away from the beach.

One positive sign, according to Tam, is a decline of hospitalizations, despite an outbreak of coronavirus in a large portion of Sussex County. He acknowledged that coronavirus could take different paths with the system feeling its impact over an extended period.

State reopening orders require that health care providers have sufficient protective equipment (PPE) in place. Surgical gowns have been in tighter supply, although masks are more widely available.

This week, Dover-based Bayhealth announced it is rescheduling some elective surgeries, procedures, therapies, and diagnostic tests that were postponed. Bayhealth has hospitals and outpatient facilities in Kent and Sussex County.

“Bayhealth is committed to re-opening to normal operations in a measured way that protects our patients and staff. We will continue to follow national and state guidelines, that include mitigation efforts, as we continue to recover,” said CEO Terry M. Murphy.

Some elective imaging exams, such as mammography, will also begin again soon at Bayhealth. Restrictions on visitors remain in place.

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