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McDowell hospitals reopening for non-essential surgeries, procedures

Ephraim McDowell Health is reopening its facilities to care for patients who have postponed nonessential tests and surgeries since March in order to help curb the spread of COVID-19. Emergency rooms at its three hospitals are also open for patients to use, even if it’s not related to the pandemic.

Daniel McKay, president and CEO of Ephraim McDowell Health, said the hospital began its third phase of reopening on Wednesday, when in-patient surgeries resumed. General in-patients surgeries now being performed include total hip and joint replacements, orthopedic procedures and things like gallbladder removal now being performed again, McKay said.

Two weeks ago, the EMH hospitals in Danville, Harrodsburg and Stanford began out-patient surgeries and procedures such as scopes, GI procedures, tonsillectomies and ear tubes for children, he said.

And the emergency room is not just for testing COVID-19 patients, like some people may have believed, McKay explained.

“We are the safest place to come to if you’re sick,” he said. “You’re more than welcome if you’re hurt or sick. This is the place to come to to keep you safe,” he added.

The emergency room staff and doctors’ offices are prepared, McKay said. “They have the personal protection equipment, supplies and training” to take care of patients under these extraordinary times.

And, as the hospitals have begun slowly reopening, EMH is beginning to call back employees that were furloughed, McKay said.

While the hospital was closed to patients with non-essential needs, employees worked “diligently” to enhance its cleaning processes and developed procedures and precautions to help keep everyone safe from COVID-19, McKay said.

Doctors are on an oversight committee that evaluates and manages how the hospitals slowly open back to normal functioning levels, he said. But, “We don’t want to be at full capacity,” yet.

McKay said, “We’re safe. People don’t need to be afraid to come to the hospital.”

All EMH locations are continually disinfecting their facilities and are practicing social distancing measures, according to an EMH news release. Patients will be asked to practice social distancing in all waiting areas, and if waiting areas become too congested, patients may be asked to remain in their cars until someone comes to get them for their appointment.

When a patient enters one of the three EMH hospitals, they will be assessed, have their temperature taken and will be required to wear a surgical mask, the release stated. When entering one of the other facilities, patients must also wear a protective mask, and cloth masks are acceptable. Patients are encouraged to bring a mask from home if they have one. If a patient does not have a mask, they will be given one at the facility.

Ephraim McDowell Health has taken specific steps for the protection of its patients and associates. No visitors are allowed at Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center, Ephraim McDowell Fort Logan Hospital or Ephraim McDowell James B. Haggin Hospital. There are some exceptions such as passing patients, patient sitters and those who are power of attorney or health care surrogates for a patient. In our other facilities, only patients are allowed to be inside.

EMH will continue to offer and encourage telehealth visits when appropriate. Please call your health care provider to schedule an appointment.