AHN To Resume Some Elective Surgeries, In-Person Appointments

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By NewsRadio 1020 KDKA

PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - Allegheny Health Network is moving toward “normal,” resuming some in-person appointments and elective surgeries.

Hospitals in the state have been authorized to do so as long as they have enough ICU beds, coronavirus test kits and person protective equipment.

AHN says safety precautions are in place at facilities including social distancing, deep cleaning every two hours and visitation restrictions.

“After more than a month limiting medical visits and encouraging the public to seek health care services by phone or online, AHN is prepared to safely resume in-person care at all of our facilities,” said Donald Whiting, MD, AHN’s Chief Medical Officer. “However, the health of patients and caregivers remains our top priority, and we will continue to strictly adhere to the safety precautions and protocols established by the CDC and OSHA.”

AHN will screen every patient for COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors. Those who don’t pass will be tested for coronavirus.

“We do not want patients to avoid seeking care for more serious conditions or health emergencies for fear of contracting COVID-19,” said Dr. Whiting. “We understand that concern, but it’s vital that patients come to a hospital if they have an emergency, and we want to assure patients that because of the steps we are taking they will be safe and well cared-for when they come to an AHN facility.”

Safety precautions and accommodations at AHN facilities include:

  • Extended office hours, with staggered staffing shifts, to spread the patient traffic flow over a longer time period, to mitigate congestion at facilities.
  • Setting up separate entrances and treatment areas for COVID-19 patients — and utilizing our specially trained infectious disease care teams to treat those patients.
  • Spaced out chairs in waiting rooms, and other visual markers, to encourage physical distancing.
  • Strategic sneeze guard installations in reception areas and other patient touchpoints.
  • Deep cleaning throughout our facilities every two hours, at minimum.
  • Pre-screening procedures to expedite appointments.
  • Clinical staff wearing protective masks at all times.
  • Visitation restrictions at AHN facilities remain in place, with limited exceptions for end-of-life-care and visits to obstetrical units and neonatal intensive care units, or for those accompanying minors or individuals with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities or cognitive impairment.  

On Tuesday, state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine announced hospitals that resume elective surgeries will not be provided PPE equipment from the state.

That equipment will be reserved for nursing homes, where a majority of COVID-19 deaths have occurred.

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