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Elective surgeries resuming in Missouri, St. Louis hospitals phasing in procedures

Hospitals put a hold on the procedures like routine mammograms, colonoscopies and joint replacements so resources could be focused on caring for COVID-19 patients

ST. LOUIS — Elective surgeries are beginning to resume at hospitals across Missouri as the state begins to reopen for business.

Hospitals put a hold on the procedures like routine mammograms, colonoscopies and joint replacements so resources could be focused on caring for COVID-19 patients. The decision also helped limit the number of people in hospitals, which limited the coronavirus exposure risk for the general public.

“These resources will remain as hospitals resume phased-in patient care, while ensuring their flexibility to address potential future outbreaks,” the Missouri Hospital Association said in a news release Monday afternoon.

Resuming elective surgeries coincides with Missouri Governor Mike Parson’s lifting of the stay-at-home order Monday. However, the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County remain under stay-at-home orders until further notice.

RELATED: Everything you need to know about Missouri's reopening plan that begins on Monday

St. Louis area hospitals haven't performed elective procedures since March 23. Since then, several hospital systems have announce employee furloughs due, in part, to the pause on procedures.

5 On Your Side reached out to several hospital systems in the St. Louis area to check in on their plans for resuming the surgeries. Below are the statements we received.

BJC HealthCare:

"Throughout the COVID-19 response, BJC HealthCare team members have worked diligently to provide safe and compassionate care. While we need to remain vigilant, with the gradual reduction in new hospital admissions in our region we are now looking ahead toward how and when we will gradually and safely resume services that have been postponed or halted. We intend to take a measured approach in coordination with the reopening of services in our community as led by our elected officials. The safety of our patients, staff and the community continues to be our highest priority."

RELATED: Wash U to furlough 500 employees on main campus

SSM Health:

"SSM Health will begin performing a limited number of elective surgeries later this week. As we move forward with these plans, we will continue to maintain strict protocols to ensure the safety of our patients and employees including continuing to perform health screenings on all employees upon their arrival to work. Patients will also undergo a health screening prior to their procedure and if necessary, receive a COVID-19 test. SSM Health will continue to monitor guidelines issued by the CDC and will work closely with state and local officials to ensure we are following safety and social distancing guidelines, as appropriate."

RELATED: SSM Health is putting 2,000 employees on furlough

Illinois remains under a stay-at-home order through May 30. But a recent modification to the order allows hospitals to resume certain elective surgeries.

HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital said it plans to start the procedures again next week. Patients who had procedures postponed will be contacted by their surgeon’s office to reschedule.

RELATED: HSHS to furlough employees due to COVID-19's 'rapid and dramatic impact on healthcare'

The Illinois Department of Public Health issued these guidelines for hospitals:

  • All patients preparing for an elective procedure must have a negative COVID-19 test on file within 72 hours of a scheduled procedure and must self-quarantine after being tested until the day of surgery to limit their risk of exposure. Patients will be informed during a pre-surgical call the most convenient place to undergo this testing. St. Elizabeth’s will only be testing patients scheduled for procedures at their facility.
  • The patient’s one support person that will be allowed to accompany them the day of their surgery will also be screened.
  • The hospital’s current visitor restrictions will still apply to minimize traffic within the hospital to keep patients and the community safe.

All patients and visitors also will be required to wear a mask at all times while inside the hospital and everyone will be screened as they walk into the hospital.

RELATED: Mercy planning for 'graduated return to normal operations'

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