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Renee Johnson - screening at entrance of hospital

Phelps Memorial Health Center is now performing imaging services and will begin outpatient surgeries and other procedures that have been delayed the past several weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Phelps Memorial will continue to adhere to social distancing guidelines, using personal protective equipment (PPE) throughout the hospital. In regards to visiting restrictions, those will remain in place for the safety of hospital teammates and patients.

“As we think about re-opening, we’re going to continue all safety practices,” said Leora Smith, Chief Nursing Officer at Phelps Memorial Health Center. “We’ll continue the practice of universal masking, the restrictions of visitation, the social distancing within our facility. All patients and authorized visitors will be screened upon entering the facility.”

Phelps Memorial services will re-open on a compounding schedule beginning with areas with minimal exposure.

“It is our duty to ensure we are taking care of the patients in need of our services while ensuring the highest level of quality and safety standards for everyone in our care and on our team,” said Mrs. Smith. “Currently, our area remains at extreme risk of COVID-19 as the number of positive cases continues to rise in the Two Rivers Public Health District.”

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has included the following directed health measures for elective procedures as it relates to our facility:

  • 7 inpatient beds, including 3 in SCU, and 1 ventilator must be available for COVID-19 patients; and,
  • maintain a 2-week supply of PPE, which will be  based on the assumption of 12 patients in isolation.

If the hospital is unable to maintain the above points, elective procedures will come to a standstill until it is safe to resume activity.

Mrs. Smith stated, “This isn’t like pulling a switch and suddenly going back to ‘normal.’ Using the timeline we have in place, we will be able to react if the COVID-19 situation changes.”

Patients may be ineligible for elective procedures, and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, if any of the following are true:

  • are COVID-19 positive (we will consider scheduling them after at least a 30-day recovery);
  • are currently under investigation for COVID-19;
  • live with someone who is COVID-19 positive or under investigation for COVID-19;
  • have traveled to a high-risk area within the last 14 days; and,
  • have used NSAIDs within 24 hours of hospital arrival.

Procedures will be cancelled if the patient has an unexplained fever, suspected respiratory infection, or unexplained hypoxia (O2 saturations less than 90%).

Patient requirements for elective procedures, in addition to our normal preoperative and procedural precautions, include:

  • immediately reporting signs or symptoms of COVID-19:
    • fever, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, neurological issues, cardiac issues, diarrhea, etc.
  • ceasing use of NSAIDs one week prior to procedures; and,
  • practicing effective social distancing and home isolation for 14 days prior to surgical procedure.

 “Many people have been living with painful conditions over the last several weeks and they’re ready to get them fixed,” said Mrs. Smith.  "We are encouraging anyone who has been holding off on surgery that really needs to be done to get that scheduled and to proceed." 

She added, “We don’t want people with moderate, yet treatable, conditions staying at home and allowing their conditions to become worse.”

Patients scheduled for joint replacement and inpatient spine procedures will be required to attend joint camp prior to surgery. Of course, we will be practicing appropriate physical distancing to ensure we are minimizing exposure to our patients and teammates.

For the safety of our patients, authorized visitors and teammates, the following precautions remain in effect until it is determined safe to ease restrictions:

  • patient and authorized family and visitor screening;
  • cafeteria closed to the public; and
  • appropriate masking and PPE utilization as recommended by the CDC and our Quality Team.

"We are highly trained in how to protect our patients and each other when it comes to COVID-19 or any infectious disease,” said Mrs. Smith.

The dates below are subject to change as the pandemic progresses. Depending on specialty surgeon scheduling, certain inpatient orthopedic and spine procedures could occur the week of May 18.

Schedule of Re-Opening

Week of May 11 – Imaging, Lower Gastrointestinal Scopes, Sleep Studies

Week of May 18 – Outpatient Orthopedic and Spine, Pain Clinic, Specialty Clinics

**NOTE** All specialty clinics will be held at the hospital location. The Family Medical Specialties Acute Care Clinic remains operational.

Week of May 25 – Dental Procedures, Inpatient Surgical Procedures

“We know there still may be patients concerned with coming to the hospital and we want to reiterate to those patients that we are keeping the hospital a safe place, just like we always have,” stressed Mrs. Smith. “And those who need medical care should come to the hospital to get that medical care.”


Pictured: Renee Johnson, Cardiac Rehab Leader at Phelps Memorial Health Center, is completing the screening process on a person entering the hospital.