Patient, staff safety paramount as HMH rolls out plan to resume elective procedures, surgeries

Hardin Memorial Health (HMH) is rolling out a restart plan to gradually resume full operations, focusing on the well-being and safety of its patients and employees. HMH suspended elective surgeries on March 18 on the recommendation of Governor Andy Beshear, and certain diagnostic services a week later.

Governor Beshear announced last week that he is reopening the state’s economy with healthcare services. HMH is working thoughtfully and diligently with its medical experts – and in collaboration with local and state governments plus other healthcare providers – to determine the safest and best methods to phase in services.

“We will closely follow all local, state, and national guidelines in regard to checking everyone in advance for COVID-19 symptoms, in maintaining proper physical distancing and by requiring masks for everyone,” said Dennis Johnson, HMH President, and CEO. “Our region collaborated early on and took this virus seriously and as a result, we successfully flattened the curve. Now, we must continue to use these critical safety measures to incrementally bring services back while minimizing COVID-19 spread.

“We appreciate the patience of those who previously had procedures scheduled,” said Johnson. “We will work closely with all of our healthcare providers to systematically work through that backlog based on patients’ needs.”

Next week, outpatient diagnostic radiology and laboratory services will resume on a limited scale basis at HMH’s main campus and off-site locations including Bardstown Diagnostic Center and Elizabethtown Diagnostic Imaging (EDI).

HMH Medical Group physician practices and clinics will resume in-person visits as determined by the physician or advanced practice clinician. There will be added precautions at all clinic locations to ensure physical distancing in waiting rooms, including limiting visitors and requiring masks for all patients, visitors, and staff.

“The HMH Medical Group team recognizes not all individuals feel comfortable leaving their homes to receive care, so we’ll continue to offer video and telehealth options, where possible,” said Thomas Hustead, M.D., Medical Director, HMH Medical Group. “These visits allow you and your loved ones to meet with your provider, securely and confidentially.”

Beginning May 6, select outpatient surgeries including elective surgeries will restart, along with some other invasive procedures such as pulmonary function tests, cardiopulmonary and vascular and imaging procedures.

Starting May 13, HMH will phase in inpatient surgeries with a goal to return to normal patient volumes by late May or early June.

“Anyone who has postponed surgery or a procedure needs to discuss timing with their doctor as to when they should reschedule,” said Rita Pardee, R.N. and HMH AVP Surgical Services. “We want to be sure they meet all pre-surgery requirements so they can have the best outcome. We want to remind the community as well, that they should not hesitate to seek medical care for urgent and emergency needs. We are here to care for you and your safety comes first as always.”

Patient safety measures

For the safety of patients, caregivers, and the community, both patients and staff need to wear a mask at all times. Patients and visitors are encouraged to bring their own masks, as recommended by CDC guidelines, to preserve supplies for our healthcare workers.

Suspected or presumptive COVID-19 patients will be treated in isolated areas away from those seeking care for other ailments. Healthcare staff will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms as they report for work, while patients will be screened as they enter the building/facility/hospital. Screening could include taking temperatures.

Restrictions on bringing a companion to appointments will continue. Patients should come alone, unless they are under age 18, or are incapacitated and need assistance. Visitation is allowed in end-of-life cases.

Virtual care

Video visits or email connections with healthcare providers are highly recommended for non-emergency care. These can be conducted from home or office using a smartphone or computer with video capability. For information about video visits, visit https://www.hmh.net/videovisit/.

Those who also want to help during the COVID-19 pandemic can donate to the HMH Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Fund at ourhmh.org/online-donations. All gifts directly benefit HMH caregivers.

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, please seek reliable, up-to-date, information. Recommended sources are:

  • Hardin Memorial Health – hmh.net or Patient Symptom Hotline: (270) 979-7777
  • Centers for Disease Control (CDC) – cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov
  • Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services – kycovid19.ky.gov or Public Hotline: 1-800-722-5725
  • Lincoln Trail District Health Department – ltdhd.org