~ Press release issued by Valley Health System
Valley Health System has begun to expand access to certain services that were curtailed in March due to the growing incidence of COVID-19 in the region.
Recent announcements by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and West Virginia Governor Jim Justice lifting the hold on elective medical services due to a decrease in the diagnosis of new cases, and careful consideration by Valley Health medical staff and administrative leaders, has led to an incremental easing of restrictions on diagnostic and surgical procedures.
For the safety of patients who cannot or should not delay care further, Valley Health resumed elective outpatient diagnostic testing earlier this week and is begining elective surgical procedures at some facilities for patients with time-sensitive medical needs. (Emergency diagnostic and surgical services have been provided without interruption.)
Outpatient health services and clinics offering telehealth visits will continue to do so as appropriate. Valley Health physician practices will continue to see patients via telemedicine and use special precautions for patients who require in-person care.
Valley Health has COVID-specific protocols in place to ensure the safety of patients and staff, and the appropriate treatment of individuals with suspected COVID-19 who seek care at our hospitals and outpatient locations. All patients are pre-screened for COVID-19 before entering a Valley Health facility for their test or procedure. All patients who need an elective surgical or endoscopic procedure will be tested for COVID-19 in advance. Additionally, all patients will wear a facemask upon arrival at a Valley Health facility and throughout the duration of their care. To address social distancing requirements, seating has been removed from some waiting areas. With few exceptions, family members are asked to not accompany patients inside a Valley Health facility and to wait outdoors or in their vehicles.
“Our number one priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been – and continues to be – ensuring the safety of every patient we are privileged to serve, and preserving the health of our staff and the larger community,” says Mark H. Merrill, President and CEO of Valley Health. “We are taking every precaution to assure the safety and quality care of patients in each of our hospitals and outpatient locations.”
All decisionmaking in regard to curtailing and resuming servies has been led by a system-wide physician-led, administratively-supported committee, Merrill notes. “I am very proud of how our team has prepared and responded to every phase of this situation and its ongoing impact on our operations, from wellness and fitness through outpatient diagnostic and therapeutic services, acute hospital care and long term care.”
Valley Health’s ability to provide elective diagnostic and procedural care going forward will depend on many variables — including changing COVID-19 incidence in our region, personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies, governmental and regulatory changes, and other factors – and may vary over time.
“We must remain responsive to changing conditions and disease prevalence in our community,” Merrill concludes. “We appreciate the numerous gestures of support from our providers and community and ask for continued understanding and flexibility as we work to cautiously and deliberately resume access to care for patients while limiting exposure risk and ensuring the safety of our community.”
Additional information on available services can be found at www.valleyhealthlink.com/electiveservices.