Bluewater Health is starting to make the calls no one wants to get.
Starting Monday, the hospital is cutting back on elective surgeries. The COVID unit is being reopened, resulting in some staff movement within the hospital, which will affect select surgeries and procedures.
Julia Oosterman, Bluewater Health director of communications, says the hospital is “slowly dialing back some of our procedures.” For example, a doctor who had access to the hospital operating room five days a week might, starting Monday, only have access to the OR three days a week.
People whose surgeries and procedures are delayed will be getting a call from their doctor’s office. Diagnostic tests – like CT scans – will continue for now.
“We’re keeping as much going as possible,” Oosterman adds.
“We are mindful of the impact these changes have on those we serve and don’t make these decisions lightly,” says Chief of Staff Dr. Mike Haddad in a news release.
Oosterman says the hospital is trying to prepare what they expect will be a “tsumani” of COVID-19 patients from the community in the coming two weeks.
“It’s about staffing and making sure we have enough staff to potentially ramp up the COVID Unit.”
While the number of people needing medical attention rises, the hospital is also feeling the effects of COVID-19 on its staff. Oosterman says over 70 people are at home isolating after being in contact with someone who tested positive. They, like everyone else who comes into contact with a COVID-19 positive person – are expected to self isolate for 14 days.
“In the middle of this war, these are our frontline soldiers, for the most part, they want to be there…they want to make a difference,” says Oosterman adding having to stay home to isolate is hard on them “mentally and emotionally.”
Today, there are seven people in hospital ill with COVID-19.