Bryan Health has been gradually ramping up how many elective surgeries it's been taking on since resuming procedures on May 4.
The hospital began with outpatient and short-stay procedures in order to keep beds and staffing free to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Kate Rosenberger said Friday.
With enough personal protective equipment on hand, and due to the success of social distancing efforts in Lincoln, Rosenberger said Bryan plans to resume fully elective procedures beginning in June.
Rosenberger, an ear, nose and throat specialist, has worked with surgeons from different specialties and Bryan administrators on new guidelines based on those set by the American College of Surgeons and Gov. Pete Ricketts for resuming surgeries in the coming weeks.
Bryan will continue to screen patients before they come into the hospital for symptoms, potential exposure and recent travel, Rosenberger said.
The hospital is also requiring all patients and employees to wear masks, which Rosenberger called a effective way at decreasing transmission of COVID-19.
Doctors wear N95 masks and face shields, or personal respiratory devices — the spacesuit-resembling equipment — during surgeries.
"Talking to my colleagues around the country, this is not always the case," Rosenberger said about the availability of the devices. "We are really fortunate to have access to those. That really keeps patients and staff safe in those high-risk procedures."
Finally, any patient receiving an elective procedure will first get a coronavirus test and be asked to self-isolate from the time of testing to when they arrive at the hospital for their operation.
Rosenberger said the tests help the hospital identify asymptomatic carriers of the disease. Anyone who tests positive won't be operated on.
Although the number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to rise — 1,102 of the 8,208 people tested by Bryan have come back positive, a 13.5% positive rate, with 394 tests pending — other health issues requiring surgeries continue to exist, she said.
"Overall, the vast majority of patients who are hospitalized right now are not for COVID, they are for other medical reasons," Rosenberger said.
As of Friday, there were 439 people hospitalized at Bryan campuses. Only 28 of those were coronavirus-related, including 10 in intensive care units.
"I think it's really important for people to remember there are medical issues out there that need to be treated in a time-sensitive fashion, that need to be addressed and could potentially get worse if we don't operate," Rosenberger said.
"We need to be able to do these surgeries safely and proceed in a manner that is safe for patients and surgeons and staff."
Latest updates on coronavirus in Lincoln and nearby
See the latest news as more coronavirus cases are identified in Nebraska.
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