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Mercy planning for 'graduated return to normal operations'

The hospital said measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 appear to be working, but they are looking for certain criteria before resuming certain procedures

ST. LOUIS — One of the St. Louis area’s biggest healthcare systems said it's making plans for what “back to normal” will look like.

“We want to thank you for your patience and cooperation in helping us slow the spread of COVID-19 these last few months,” reads an email sent to Mercy patients Monday. “Our social distancing and quarantine efforts appear to be working, and that’s truly worth celebrating.”

In that email, Mercy described a “graduated return to normal operations” that includes “restarting select procedures and diagnostics soon.”

READ MORE: Mercy making plans to return to normal operations

However, that doesn’t mean you should start packing your hospital bag.

“We need to ensure that we've seen the peak and are on the downward trend before we would even consider reactivating some of the elective care that we have deferred,” said Jeff Johnston, Mercy Regional President.

5 On Your Side submitted questions to Mercy leadership for response via video. There, they clarified they wouldn't reopen medical centers or hospitals for elective procedures until they have enough PPE and testing for patients and staff, and they've seen two weeks of sustained COVID-19 decrease in that particular community.

This comes as SSM announced cost-cutting measures due in part to the reduction in patient volume during the coronavirus pandemic, including furloughing 2,000 employees. Mercy did not respond to our question about whether a reduction in patient volume and subsequent revenue impacts their reopening plans.

READ MORE: SSM Health is putting 2,000 employees on furlough

Even with the "gradual return" to normal, some elements of our new normal will remain, such as limits on visitors, screening for symptoms, plus masks and social distancing.

"So we won't have a lot of people in waiting rooms, it will be very different than what people have experienced previously, and we also want to make sure that we don't go too far too fast, really making sure that we space out care so that we can maintain that social distancing,” said Johnston.

If you had an appointment or procedure postponed at Mercy, Johnston said your provider’s office will be contacting you to reschedule.

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