HOUSTON (May 4, 2020) – St. Luke’s Health announced that it is preparing to safely resume some scheduled procedures and services, following guidance from national health officials and clinical associations.
Like most hospitals, St. Luke’s Health stopped performing these procedures to prepare for a surge of COVID-19 patients and ensure we could provide these patients with the safest care. In taking the step to resume some procedures, St. Luke’s Health is using criteria that is based on guidance from the CDC, U.S. Surgeon General, American Hospital Association, and the leading national associations of nurses, surgeons, and anesthesiologists.
The safety of our patients and staff always comes first. We will continue to take significant steps to make sure it is safe to provide care and be treated at our care facilities. We have a strict set of criteria that must be met before any procedures can resume. This includes: The community must see a sustained reduction of cases; the care facility has enough personal protective equipment and testing to keep our patients and staff safe. And existing safety precautions like limiting visitation and universal masking for staff and patients will stay in place. We won’t be able to provide every service right away – rather, this will be a gradual process, with the most urgent procedures being prioritized using a process created by our clinical teams.
Serving our communities is our calling, and safely resuming these procedures is one of the best ways we can help our communities heal. Even though we have not been able to perform these procedures, they are critically important to our patients to help alleviate pain, treat chronic conditions, or prevent a condition from worsening. We look forward to doing what our mission calls us to do each and every day and provide the care that our patients and our communities depend on.
To get more information about scheduling a procedure or rescheduling a previously scheduled procedure, contact your doctor.
Resuming Elective Procedures: Frequently Asked Questions
1. Which procedures are being resumed?
We are resuming some scheduled procedures, but this will be a gradual process. We won’t be able to provide every service right away. Some procedures may be prioritized based on urgency and other factors such as whether a procedure was previously scheduled. Contact your physician to find out when you will be able to schedule your procedure.
2. Why are we resuming some procedures?
Like most hospitals, we paused scheduled procedures in response to guidance from the CDC to reduce transmission of the virus and expand capacity for a surge of COVID-19 patients. Now that the initial peak of the pandemic appears to be behind us, national and state health officials and associations of medical professionals have released criteria for safely resuming scheduled procedures. We will only resume procedures when we are certain it is safe to do so and all of these criteria have been met.
3. Is it safe to receive care?
We are taking significant steps to make sure it is safe to be treated at our care facilities. We have a careful and measured approach to determine which procedures can safely be performed, where they can be performed, and when they can be performed. We have a strict set of criteria that must be met before any procedures can resume. This includes: The community must see a sustained reduction of cases; the care facility has enough personal protective equipment to keep patients and staff safe; and we have the ability to increase testing for both patients and staff at our care facilities.
4. When will I be able to receive my procedure?
We are working to resume procedures as safely and quickly as possible. This will be an ongoing process and we may not be able to immediately perform every desired procedure. Our plan is to resume certain elective surgeries over the upcoming weeks. Contact your doctor to find out when you will be able to schedule your procedure.
5. What should I expect when I arrive?
Your experience getting care at one of our care facilities may be different than it was before COVID-19. For instance, all patients will be screened before entering the facility and will be required to wear a mask at all times. We will also work with patients to be tested for COVID-19 before receiving a procedure. And visitation restrictions will remain in place.
6. Will I need to be screened or tested before my procedure?
All patients coming for a scheduled procedure (with the exception of non-invasive radiology services and non-invasive procedures) will be tested for COVID-19 before they receive care.
o COVID-19 testing must be completed within 3-5 days before the scheduled procedure.
o Once testing is completed, it will be important to self-quarantine until the day of the procedure. Your doctor will provide the testing location. (The testing will require a scheduled appointment to facilitate social distancing in testing areas).
o Staff will perform screening for COVID-19 symptoms during your Pre-admission call, on arrival to the facility at our entrance points, and in the pre-op area on the day of the procedure.
o Patients testing positive may need to alter their care plan in coordination with their doctor.
7. Will I be in the same areas where patients with COVID-19 have been treated? We are taking significant steps to reduce risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission, including setting aside designated rooms and areas for non-COVID patients, screening all employees, visitors and patients for COVID-19 symptoms to reduce the risk of transmission, and requiring that all healthcare workers, patients and visitors wear a mask during their hospital visit to reduce the spread. We are also promoting social distancing, such as minimizing time in waiting areas and spacing chairs at least 6 feet apart.
8. Will we need to postpone scheduled procedures again? If we see an increase in COVID-19 cases, we may reinstate some or all of the restrictions we have had in place. We will be closely monitoring COVID-19 cases in our area and the pace at which we resume procedures will be dictated by the realities in our community.
About St. Luke’s Health
St. Luke’s Health is dedicated to a mission of enhancing community health through high-quality, cost-effective care. In partnership with our physicians and community partners, we are committed to excellence and compassion in caring for the whole person while creating healthier communities. A part of Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), one of the nation’s largest health systems, St. Luke’s Health is home of the Texas Heart ®Institute (THI), eight hospitals, eight emergency centers, Diagnostic & Treatment Center, Radiation & CyberKnife® Center, and several St. Luke’s Medical Group locations throughout Greater Houston. Learn more at CHIStLukesHealth.org.