◆ Furloughed employees return as elective procedures return in the coming months.
As the COVID-19 Pandemic rolled across the nation, hospitals made significant changes, closing their facilities to elective procedures and leaving beds open for potential Coronavirus patients.
The 22-bed Star Valley Health hospital was among the health care facilities making those changes.
The hospital was responding to guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Centers for Disease Control that called for the suspension of elective procedures, in order to preserve hospital capacity and maintained adequate Personal Protection Equipment supplies.
Within in a month COVID counts remained low in many of Wyoming’s counties and decisions were made to consider a plan to re-open facilities for some procedures.
Star Valley Health, working with the guidance of the Wyoming Department of Health, is in process of resuming some of the elective procedures in the coming weeks.
Noting Lincoln County’s cases, hovering around six with most recovered, SV Health CEO Bren Lowe said an opening is allowed because “we have the capacity and the protective equipment.”
Lowe said Wyoming Department of Health Guidelines will be followed, such as consultations with county and state health officials and testing for each elective procedure.
The Wyoming Department of Health has listed 9 specific guidelines for hospitals re-opening their doors in the coming weeks to different procedures.
“Every patient will be tested for COVID-19,” Low emphasize and patients will be asked to limit their contact with others prior to the procedures and health masks will be used by both staff and patient.
“We believe once we have everything in place then we will be capable of restarting our elective procedures,” Lowe said. “In the next few weeks we’ll see more elective cases added and completed.”
Adding those cases will allow previously furloughed employees to start returning.
In the past six weeks, 96 SV Health employees have had their hours reduced or eliminated and 54 employees have taken salary reductions.
“The surgical cases will be based on staffing,” explained Lowe. “We can’t do them all at once, but we will transition into doing more cases over the next few weeks and months.”
As the hospital returns with the procedures safety will be emphasized.
“Decisions will be based the safety of the employees and the patients,” Lowe concluded. “All Personal Protection Equipment and testing will be in place.”