Staying home during the COVID-19 crisis has been tough all-around –
from struggling small businesses to managing working at home and kids’
online school. But, for some, it’s meant something even more pressing:
putting off necessary surgeries until hospitals were able to ensure they
could be performed safely.
These timely procedures have resumed at Baton Rouge General. In this situation,
“timely” means that the procedure or surgery can’t wait
without putting a patient at risk. Patients who need those procedures
now find themselves weighing the risks: putting off surgery even longer
vs. visiting a hospital where COVID patients are being treated.
Avoiding medical care because of the fear of possible exposure has created
other health issues that can be just as harmful as COVID-19. For example,
hospitals have seen fewer heart attack patients, fewer stroke patients
and fewer cancer screenings throughout this crisis. The lack of patients
coming in with these types of issues doesn’t mean the issues aren’t
happening. It means patients are waiting it out at home, possibly getting
sicker in the process. And while some procedures can be put off for a
few weeks, they can’t be put off forever.
The good news is that hospitals like Baton Rouge General have been working
on fighting the spread of infection for years, whether it’s the
flu, COVID or other diseases. In fact, BRG is the only hospital in the
Baton Rouge area to have received an “A” for patient safety
from the Leapfrog Group every one of the last 9 years.
Even more encouragingly, Baton Rouge General has developed a new touchless
surgery process, including a
Surgery Fast Pass that ensures patients coming in for surgeries are safe and separate from
any other patients in the hospital. Starting April 27, surgery patients
will enter the facility through a separate entrance just for surgery patients.
All paperwork and registration can be completed ahead of time, so patients
don’t have to touch or sign anything when they arrive. After they
have their temperatures checked and receive a mask, they will receive
their registration bracelet and be escorted down a marked path to a set
of elevators only used by surgery patients. Then, they will be escorted
into a “clean” pre-operation area where only non-COVID patients
are cared for.
The entire process is designed to minimize the risk of contracting any
type of infection. For example, staff members on COVID units do not care
for patients on non-COVID units. And our staff members on COVID units
are supplied with laundered scrubs when they arrive so when they leave,
they can change back into “clean” clothes so that they are
not wearing anything that could be potentially contaminated. Even in other,
less visible areas of the hospital, we’ve taken extra precautions
like using disposable trays and food items for patients, to reduce the
risk of contamination.
Ultimately, the hospital’s job is to keep patients safe and healthy.
That means performing procedures when they’re needed and making
sure patients go home feeling better than when they arrived.