LEBANON, NH – Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health (D-HH) is preparing to resume time-sensitive, urgent elective surgeries and procedures and ambulatory visits within the next 14 days. Working in consultation with the State of New Hampshire and the New Hampshire Hospital Association, D-HH has determined that current conditions indicate that a safe return to some clinical operations is appropriate.
In late March, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, D-HH was forced to announce the reduction of some non-urgent surgeries and procedures and some office and home visits, out of concern for critically short supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), other medical supplies, and medications, all of which have been in shortage across the globe. The reduction also came in the interest of slowing the spread of COVID-19, and in response to the urging of U.S. Surgeon General VADM Jerome M. Adams, MD, MPH, that hospitals across the nation postpone elective surgeries, which are commonly thought of as those which may be time sensitive but not urgent or emergent.
Now, many of those patients whose procedures and appointments were postponed are being re-scheduled as D-HH begins the process of recovery even as the pandemic continues.
D-HH hospitals have seen a relatively steady number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19. COVID cases around the region appear to be plateauing, and current projections show that – if current social distancing and other mitigation measures continue in place – any surge that may come will be below levels originally forecast.
For the month of April, all D-HH hospitals (including Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital in Lebanon, Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in Lebanon, Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center in Windsor, VT, and New London Hospital) have seen an average of 10 (ten) COVID-positive patients daily; DHMC has had an average of 7 (seven) inpatients daily. D-HH’s Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire continues to see COVID-19 patients who are being cared for in their homes.
D-HH has convened a special Clinical Recovery Command Team, headed by Merrens and by D-HH Chief Operating Officer Patrick F. Jordan III, to implement the complex process of resuming the operations that have been disrupted by the pandemic.
Focusing on specific business segments, the Clinical Recovery Command Team is comprised of nine work groups to support D-HH leadership, and to share plans and best practices across the D-HH system.
Among the considerations facing the recovery planning team: careful monitoring of inventory and logistics to ensure necessary PPE, supplies and medications; how to handle the influx of staff who will return to the hospitals to support the ramping up, including the testing, imaging, and other diagnostics that will precede procedures and surgeries; scheduling and patient outreach; parking and security as traffic into the hospitals increases; and the impact of revised visitor policies on those patients coming for care.
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