MUSCATINE, Iowa–In March, Governor Kim Reynolds ordered a temporary pause to non-emergency surgeries and procedures to help hospitals conserve limited supplies of personal protective equipment. As supply chains have recovered from the sudden global surge in demand, Reynolds allowed hospitals across the state to begin resuming these sorts of procedures in mid May, so long as they met certain capacity and personal protective equipment reserve guidelines. Over the past several weeks, UnityPoint Trinity Muscatine Hospital has begun to offer such procedures again and plans to continue to expand what they can do in the weeks to come.
Trinity Muscatine’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Toyosi Olutade, stated that since May 11, the hospital has gradually increased the number of surgeries and procedures they can provide for patients. They began with procedures such as colonoscopies, dental surgeries, and hernia repairs and other similar surgeries. In the last week, they have begun performing joint surgeries as well.
Olutade also reminds the community that Trinity Muscatine’s clinics remain open and will work with patients to safely meet their needs. “The clinics are open and people are welcome to visit; we do coordinate with patients to determine if the visits could be virtually or face to face,” he outlined.
In order to protect patients and hospital staff, Trinity Muscatine has continued to limit visitors to the hospital and has instituted several new programs. These policies include virtual waiting rooms where people do not come inside until someone can see them, pre-screening to ensure patients and staff do not have COVID-19 symptoms before a surgery or procedure begins, and rearranged furniture throughout the hospital that makes social distancing easier. Enhanced cleaning routines have continued, allowing for what Olutade described as a, “robust sanitation process to ensure the environment remains safe.” Everyone inside the hospital must also wear a mask, further lowering the risk of transmission.
Though Olutade reports that Trinity Muscatine’s, “stock of PPE is in a very good place at this time,” the hospital continues to take measures to preserve it for as long as possible, should another wave of COVID-19 make acquiring it difficult.
“Even though we are in a good place with current stock of PPE, we remain very mindful of the need to conserve PPE,” emphasized Olutade: “We are testing all patients before all procedures. This allows us to use PPE more judiciously without compromising safety. We also have a PPE reuse policy, which includes sterilization of masks and in line with CDC and WHO recommendations as well as the Governor’s provision.” Additionally, the hospital provides strong, sterilized fabric masks for patients, visitors, and non-clinical staff to use, further preserving traditional personal protective equipment for doctors and nurses.