Huntsville Hospital prepares for elective surgeries to re-open after coronavirus forced cancellations

Elective surgeries were frozen a few weeks ago to make sure the hospital could handle coronavirus cases.

Posted: Apr 27, 2020 8:50 PM
Updated: Apr 28, 2020 7:16 AM

With Gov. Kay Ivey set to potentially reveal her plans for the future of Alabama's coronavirus restrictions Tuesday morning, Huntsville Hospital will be watching to possibly learn when it can start performing elective surgeries again. 

These are the surgeries that were postponed or cancelled by state health orders designed to free up resources to fight coronavirus.

Huntsville hospital leaders say an elective surgery essentially is a surgery that can wait without hurting the patient, plastic surgery is a common example. These procedures were frozen a few weeks ago to make sure the hospital could handle coronavirus cases.

"We're planning now to looking to the first of next month, to re-open if the government gives the order and the state health department follows those plans. So we're preparing for whenever they say go that we're ready and have staff in place to do so," Huntsville Hospital leader Tracy Doughty said. 

Doughty said there is no specific date to when elective surgeries will resume, but the hospital is making sure it is ready. He explains why they were frozen in the first place.

"By not having elective surgeries, you are utilizing less PPE across the board, and there are less people in and out of the hospital and interacting with each other, so it serves two purposes," Doughty said.

Doughty says the hospital uses agency guidelines, including the american college of surgeons, to identify what is elective - like removing a mole or wart - and isn't elective.

A non-elective surgery is...

"Something is of extreme pain, or it will shorten your lifespan, or a cancer-agent, or something like that going on, those are not elective," Doughty said.

Doughty wants everyone to know if they are not feeling well, the emergency room is open. 

"We're still taking care of patients, and we can take care of more, so if you're at home and not feeling well, you have an ailment and can't get to your primary care physician, our er's are open and ready to take care of you," Doughty said.

When elective surgeries start again, the hospital says it will need plenty of help. Many of the employees the hospital system furloughed will then start to return to work.

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