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Samaritan Medical Center Announces Plans to Resume Elective Outpatient Procedures

Published on: May 1, 2020

Watertown, N.Y. – Samaritan Medical Center received a dose of good news on April 21 when Governor Andrew Cuomo announced hospitals in counties without a significant risk of a COVID-19 surge in the near term can resume elective outpatient surgeries and procedures.

Specific guidance has now been provided by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), and Jefferson County is one of the 35 counties able to resume these elective procedures. This announcement positively impacts Samaritan Medical Center, which plans to move forward with these procedures on Monday, May 4.

“Outpatient procedures represent approximately 80 percent of our overall surgeries, so this is obviously very good news,” said Andrew Short, vice president and chief operating officer. “We will adhere to all guidelines issued by the NYSDOH and other published medical guidance as we resume these procedures in the safest and most efficient way possible.”

Short said there is a delicate balance between resuming surgeries and being cautious about the ongoing public health crisis, noting the hospital was forced to postpone approximately 750 procedures.

“In mid-April, we established a committee to thoroughly examine a plan to prioritize the resumption of outpatient elective surgeries,” Short explained. “We’re ready to move forward with these surgical cases next week and have developed policies and procedures to ensure our facilities remain safe for our patients and staff. Our staff are well-trained, we have ample PPE, and we follow all social distancing best practices with our patient populations. We’ll be working with public health authorities and the NYSDOH to carefully implement strategies and procedures to ensure we’re not undoing the work we’ve done as a community to flatten this curve. That is our top priority.”

Short added that the return of outpatient elective surgeries and procedures will impact furloughs, with 14 staff already recalled and more may be added in the near future.

Samaritan’s surgical leadership team, including surgeons, anesthesiologists, nursing staff, and administration, has already reviewed and discussed the state’s medical guidance and has developed a plan based on the guidance provided, with patient safety at the forefront.

Samaritan will strictly adhere to NYSDOH guidelines, some of which include:

  • Testing all elective outpatient surgical and non-urgent procedural patients for COVID-19 three days prior to their scheduled appointment
  • Ensuring more than 30 percent vacancy is available in all staffed beds and 30 percent in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds
  • Creating a prioritization policy committee to ensure patients’ needs are being met as more cases are being performed
  • Ensuring we have more than a seven-day supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and medical surgical supplies on hand
  • Ensuring we have proper staffing
  • Providing data on all metrics requested from the NYSDOH

Samaritan’s plan will also include special instructions regarding counseling patients to ensure:

  • They take appropriate measures to prevent sickness prior to surgery
  • They enter the hospital through a dedicated entrance
  • They’re properly screened
  • They’re escorted to waiting areas
  • They understand how to manage the strict visitor restrictions set forth by the NYSDOH

In addition to announcing the resumption of elective outpatient surgeries and procedures, Samaritan Medical Center continues to meet the needs of all its patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our commitment to care has not wavered since the start of this crisis,” Short said. “We are here – testing community members, preparing for the weeks ahead, and organizing our staff to provide the best care possible. We are also still here for our patients who need routine services, from primary care and behavioral health to lab work, rehabilitation, radiology, cancer care, and more.”

Traditional in-office appointments, including pre- and post-surgical appointments, plus preventive care visits, are still available. Some services now also offer telemedicine with phone and video-conference options, providing patients with increased access to their providers.

Samaritan Medical Center continues to offer a Resource Line for the community at 315-755-3100, available Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

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