Norton Healthcare will begin a phased approach to safely resume services that will allow us to address our patients’ current and ongoing medical needs, effective tomorrow, Monday, April 27.
This decision was made in accordance with Gov. Andy Beshear’s recent announcement of Kentucky’s initiative to begin lifting restrictions on health care services. Phased reopening of health care services is the first step under the Healthy at Work initiative he introduced April 21 to help businesses reopen when the time is right.
Norton Healthcare’s phased approach is designed to safely resume and provide essential medical services while continuing to effectively care for those with COVID-19.
The first phase includes resuming nonurgent/nonemergency medical, diagnostic radiology and laboratory services that have been on hold since March 23. These noninvasive tests and procedures include magnetic resonance imaging scans (MRIs), computed tomography scans (CTs), mammograms and physical therapy at outpatient facilities, medical offices and hospital departments across Norton Healthcare.
Over the next few weeks, Norton Healthcare plans to safely and cautiously resume outpatient procedures and then surgeries, following the state’s guidelines.
“We recognize that many patients, including some with serious medical conditions, have put off seeking medical care, and had to delay procedures and surgeries,” said Steven T. Hester, M.D., MBA, division president, provider operations, and system chief medical officer, Norton Healthcare. “The need for medical intervention is essential to their overall health and well-being and we want to get them in just as soon as possible. However, as we gradually open up services, we will continue to use telehealth services, rather than in-person services, whenever possible for the safety of our patients and providers.
“It is very important that if you or a loved one is experiencing chest pain, difficulty speaking, mental confusion or difficulty moving an arm or leg, that you call 911 or go immediately to an ER,” Dr. Hester said. “It is critical that you do not neglect your health or ignore troubling symptoms during this time. Talk to your doctor or use our telehealth services if you are not sure the situation requires an ER visit. We are safely and efficiently treating emergency and urgent health care needs for all patients, not just those with COVID-19.”
All Norton Healthcare hospitals, emergency rooms (ERs) and clinics continually perform terminal cleansing using anti-microbial disinfectant on all surfaces in both clinical and public spaces to ensure a safe environment on behalf of patients, caregivers, and the community.
The “safe appointment wait” measure
As part of its plan, Norton Healthcare is implementing a “safe appointment wait” measure that enforces social distancing in its waiting areas, staggering scheduled appointments and, when necessary, asking our patients to wait in their vehicles for their appointments.
Additional safety enhancements include:
- All employees, providers and patients will continue to be screened for fever and respiratory symptoms upon entering any Norton Healthcare patient-care facility. They will be given a surgical mask after clearing the screening process.
- Patients are encouraged to wear their own masks. Patients who do not have a mask and show signs or symptoms of respiratory illness will be given a mask to wear.
- Employees and providers caring for patients will be provided the recommended personal protective equipment (PPE).
- The no-visitor policy remains in place for all Norton Healthcare facilities (with few exceptions).
- Infection prevention best practices, including thorough cleaning and sterilization in between each and every patient visit, will continue.
“We will continue to closely monitor the situation in Greater Louisville, Southern Indiana and within our own facilities,” said Russell F. Cox, president and CEO, Norton Healthcare. “We are confident in our ability to care for COVID-19 patients, while safely and gradually resuming procedures, and eventually all surgeries, for the benefit of our patients and community.”
“Due to the dedicated and around-the-clock work of our supply chain team, we have an adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and continue to secure more,” Cox said. “Our Norton Clinical Command Center team, composed of talented individuals from a large number of departments across our organization, has been working tirelessly to ensure our employees and community have the latest information. We have been a leader in research and innovative solutions around COVID-19 to protect our team members and community, and we have a highly skilled team of clinical experts caring for our patients. I have never been more proud of this team.”