Wayne Memorial Hospital expects to phase in services to help provide essential care for non-COVID patients following the guidelines of the federal government announced on April 16th. The first phase, the re-opening of diagnostic services, such as CT scan and MRI, will begin Monday, April 27th. These services had been limited to all but emergency or urgent cases since mid-March.
All of the hospital’s security measures, such as restricted visitation and access, masking measures, screening questions, and temperature checks for all who enter the hospital will remain in place.
“We are re-starting some services with extreme caution and concern for our patients, visitors, and staff,” said CEO David Hoff, noting that Wayne Memorial has met the federal government’s criteria of current low incidence for COVID-19, adequate staff and supplies and a need for non-COVID patient care.
“Caring for patients is at the heart of these actions,” said Hoff, “This is what our doctors and other healthcare provides asked us to do.”
“We are concerned about poor health outcomes in patients not following up on their chronic health conditions,” said James Cruse, MD, medical director of Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers and a Family Medicine physician. “While COVID-19 is the topic right now, we still need to take care of diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, hypertension and other chronic conditions. We are still seeing serious complications from these. Follow-ups of testing abnormalities, evaluations of acute problems with lab and imaging studies, cannot wait.”
The hospital will also re-open laboratory services for mornings only at its off-campus locations at the Route 6 Mall, Honesdale, Pinnacle Family Health in Tafton, Forest City Family Health and at its Waymart Outpatient Services site. Its other outpatient sites in Hamlin, Lords Valley and Carbondale have never closed and remain open for lab work and X-rays.
In an effort to reassure the public that the hospital itself is safe and to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19, particularly asymptomatic patients, Hoff said, “the hospital is putting administrative and engineering controls in place, such as barriers between chairs to maintain the recommended six feet of social distancing.”
In addition, sanitization protocols will be enhanced – “everything will be wiped with disinfectant and then wiped again,” according to WMH administration.
Patients can also expect most of their registration to be done by phone prior to arrival, and appointments will be staggered to further adhere to social distancing guidelines. Moreover, hospital officials say they will try to group services for patients with appointments for more than one to minimize the patient’s time in the hospital.
Director of Patient Care Services James Pettinato, RN, said safety measures also include the fact that all COVID patients and suspected COVID patients are and have been isolated in a containment unit until they test negative twice after treatment.
“We have been very strict about segregating our non-COVID patients from those who are positive or potentially positive,” said Pettinato. “This policy will continue.”
Wayne Memorial Hospital hopes to phase in elective surgeries and expand rehabilitation therapies in the near future.
Photo: Wayne Memorial CT scan technologists Doug Buchinski, left and Michelle Murray, far right, along with MRI technologist Beth Carney, center, say they’re ready to see more patients.