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How we’re keeping patients safe as we resume services
General Wellness

How we’re keeping patients safe as we resume services

By Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare
Posted: June 24, 2020

It’s time to start looking after your health again. Our facilities are ready. We’re ready.

On Monday, May 4, we opened our hospitals, physician practices, minor medical centers and diagnostic centers to well-patient visits — such as well visits, routine follow-ups and Medicare Wellness — as well as some elective procedures and visits.

We are in the recovery phase of the public health crisis created by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), and we want to share how our team of experts is safely resuming services, like elective elective procedures and non-emergency care, at our physician practices, minor medical centers and diagnostic centers.

Do you have concerns about seeking treatment at a hospital or emergency room? Click the Addressing Concerns about Hospitals tab above for more information about why it is safe.

How will my experience be different than it has been in the past?

If you’re scheduled to be seen in-person at a physician practice, minor medical center or diagnostic center, you will be provided a mask and will be screened upon entrance. Screening will include a temperature check and questions about any COVID-19 symptoms or exposure you may have recently experienced. 

If you’re scheduled for an elective surgery in one of our hospitals, in addition to receiving a mask and completing screening upon entrance, you will be tested for COVID-19 as part of the routine lab tests completed before your surgery. Testing you for COVID-19 will ensure your safety during your procedure and protect our providers and staff.

While any surgical procedure is accompanied by a certain amount of risk, early COVID-19 data has indicated better outcomes for patients who test negative for COVID-19. If your test is positive, your procedure may be postponed.

What won’t be different in your experience is the compassionate and high-quality care you expect from Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare staff.


How we're keeping you safe during your visit or procedure

As COVID-19 remains present in our community, we’re embracing new ways to care for you, including:

Health screening for all visitors and staff upon entrance to any of our facilities

Continuing to limit visitors (more on the policy below)

Providing masks to patients and visitors

Providing hand sanitizer in all public areas

Conducting additional cleaning and disinfecting

Testing of our providers and staff who have direct contact with COVID-19 patients

Testing all patients for COVID-19 prior to elective procedures

Virtual and in-person COVID clinic to provide safe monitoring and specialized care for our patients diagnosed with COVID-19, including patients discharged from the hospital (physician referral required)

Virtual appointments and post-operative home monitoring via telehealth

Learn more about our telehealth services

We’re doing everything we can to keep you safe and healthy while you’re in our care. As always, our providers wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and follow strict guidelines for hand washing and enhanced disinfection of facilities and equipment.


Has Methodist's visitor policy changed?

Our restricted visitor policy remains in place.

If you’re scheduled for an appointment at a physician practice, minor medical center or diagnostic center, please bring no more than one healthy support person. If you’re undergoing a procedure at the hospital, you may have one visitor before and immediately after the procedure.

Your visitor will be screened upon entrance and provided a mask.

Our patient care philosophy depends greatly on engaging families to be part of the healing process and the decision to restrict visitors was made only after careful consideration.

Click the At Our Facilities tab to read our complete visitor policy.


Why is Methodist resuming elective procedures before the end of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Our decision to resume elective procedures and routine care was made with the utmost consideration for your safety. Delays in elective procedures can impact your health and quality of life, and we want to ensure our patients get the care they need.

There are many health conditions that are not immediately urgent, but still must be addressed for optimal health, such as care of chronic conditions, for example.

We began Phase One of reactivating services on May 4. During Phase One, we accommodated approximately 50% of elective procedures that would be performed daily under normal circumstances. We are currently in phase two, increasing our limit on cases to 75%.

We will continue to add services in the coming weeks, while staying below capacity.

As our community continues the reopening process, we are carefully monitoring for indicators of a potential COVID surge and will respond appropriately.


Does Methodist have enough capacity and supplies to accommodate my procedure?

Yes. As we continue phasing in elective procedures, we are constantly monitoring our supply of PPE, as well as the number of available acute care and intensive care unit beds to ensure our facilities have the capacity and supplies they need to provide you exceptional care.


When will my appointment or procedure be rescheduled?

If you’ve had a visit or procedure postponed due to COVID-19, your provider will contact you to reschedule.  Our physicians are prioritizing procedures to reopen all of our elective services and routine care in the safest possible manner.


What you need to know before your visit or procedure

Please call your provider’s office if you are ill or have other health care needs. Your provider will work with you to determine whether an in-person or telehealth visit is best for you. If you are scheduled for an in-person visit or procedure in the office or hospital, you will be screened upon entrance.


What should I do if I’m scheduled for a procedure or in-person visit and think I may have COVID-19?

If you’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, or are concerned you may have been exposed to COVID-19, please contact your provider’s office immediately. Your provider will be able to give further direction. For your safety, as well as the safety of others, your procedure may be postponed, or you may be scheduled for a telehealth visit instead of an in-person appointment.


If you need urgent care

If you need emergency care dial 9-1-1 or visit your nearest emergency room. Our minor medical centers are also open for your urgent care needs.

It’s our mission to improve every life we touch. Whether we’re treating serious illness or fostering everyday wellness, we’re here to safely meet your unique needs. We look forward to providing you the exceptional care you’ve come to expect from Methodist.


Where can I learn more about COVID-19 and Methodist’s response to this healthcare crisis?

Methodist’s COVID-19 Resource Center houses information on symptoms, prevention, treatment, community resources -- as well as how Methodist is responding to this healthcare crisis.

Why You Shouldn't Delay Care

If you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes or heart disease, it is critical that you maintain your regular medical care. For chronic conditions, regular, consistent medical care is essential to maximize your wellbeing and avoid serious health issues, such as heart attack or stroke.

Delaying Your Care May Result in Complications and Hospitalization

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve seen an increase in patients requiring hospitalizations for chronic conditions, some with avoidable outcomes, because routine or urgent medical care was not provided timely.

As a diabetic, ignoring your A1c leads to a build-up of plaque in the arteries, putting you at great risk for heart attack or stroke. Similarly, if you have heart disease and your blood pressure and cholesterol are not properly managed, you’re at a significantly increased risk of heart attack or stroke. If not treated promptly, heart attack can cause heart failure and rhythm issues, and stroke can cause irreversible brain damage and blindness.

It’s natural to feel concerned about leaving your home and accessing healthcare, but we have taken every step to provide a safe environment. Delaying treatment for new or worsening symptoms can cause long-term complications that make it harder to enjoy all the things you want to do in life. If you have any concerns, please call your provider and we can discuss the best course of action. In some cases, we can address symptoms through a telehealth consult.


Your Chronic Conditions Can Be Treated Effectively with Consistent Care

Attending regularly scheduled appointments and keeping up with your lab tests and bloodwork puts you in the best position to manage your chronic illness. Your provider can identify and treat issues before they cause complications, improving your overall health and quality of life.


Schedule Your Appointment Today

Please contact your Methodist provider to reschedule any missed appointments. If you don’t have a primary care provider to manage your chronic illness, visit www.methodisthealth.org/primarycare to schedule an appointment with a Methodist Medical Group – Primary Care provider today. It’s time to start looking after your health again. We’re ready.

As Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare begins to resume some elective procedures, people may have questions about how MLH is deciding which procedures will begin in this phased-in approach. Here’s a look behind the scenes of elective procedures resuming at MLH.

Elective Procedures Q&A

How has COVID-19 changed the way elective procedures are conducted?

In our entire process of resuming elective surgeries, safety has always been the top priority — safety for our patients, staff members and providers.

The biggest change due to COVID-19 is the fact that people can be carrying the virus and not show or experience any symptoms. If a COVID-19 positive patient is brought into an Operating Room for a procedure, they could spread the virus through coughs or sneezes. That could potentially put staff members, physicians and potentially follow-up patients at risk of exposure.

We have now adjusted our cleaning process to a more terminal cleaning.

The Operating Room goes out of service for a couple hours. Staff members use UV lights for any signs of contaminants as well as other processes. The new process increases the amount of time between surgeries. We also require patients to undergo a COVID-19 test within 96 hours of their operation.


What has changed during an operation?

Operating rooms are now being conducted as negative-pressure rooms. That prevents airborne diseases from escaping the room and potentially infecting other people. Air is filtered before it is moved outside.

It is the same process that has been followed for any operation on a Tuberculosis patient.

Our surgical teams wear more extensive PPE as an added layer of protection. We have also reduced the number of people inside the operating room once a patient is sedated. When there are fewer people inside the operating room, the risk of contamination goes way down.


What is the process of deciding which elective procedures will happen first?

During phase one of reopening, we are focusing on outpatient cases. This way patients don’t utilize hospital resources overnight or during a hospital stay that lasts multiple days.

We also have some procedures where a patient will have surgery in the early part of the morning and will be discharged the following morning.

Our goal is to get our phase one patients in and out as quickly and safely as possible. We are slowly working toward cases that could take longer and might need an ICU stay or a ventilator. We are basing those decisions on our status of beds, ventilators, and PPE.


What might cause my procedure to be further delayed?

Methodist Le Bonheur is going through delayed elective surgeries on a case by case basis. A team of health experts are following extensive guidelines for the best practices of which cases can be delayed — without causing harm to the patient. At this time, procedures that are purely elective like plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures are still on hold.


What should I do if my surgery is on hold – is there any way to get an update?

Providers are calling patients with updates about rescheduling procedures. Our medical teams are going through the backlog of elective cases. If you have any questions about the status of your procedure, contact your provider.


How is MLH deciding when to increase the number of elective procedures?

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare is going slow, in order to go fast.

For phase one, we are operating at 50% our normal case load. We’re predicting that phase one will last about two weeks.

We are monitoring several critical data points daily to ensure we are following the best practices for safety for everyone. We look at how many ICU beds are being used, how much PPE we have across the system and how many COVID cases are in all of Shelby County.

When it is safe to enter phase two, MLH will move to a 75-80% case load. We do not want to rush to a normal schedule immediately and then have a huge upsurge with the surrounding community reopening.

With social distancing softening and restaurants opening, we have to factor in the community spread of COVID-19 as we slowly open also.

Addressing Concerns About Hospitals

As COVID-19 continues to be present in our community, some people may wonder if it is safe to go to the hospital if they are experiencing an emergency. Here are some things everyone should know when they are seeking care. 

Is it safe to go to the hospital?

Yes. The standard procedures we have in place now at MLH are much more strenuous and rigorous than what it was during “normal” times.

We screen every single person as they walk into an MLH facility. We ask questions that indicate risk factors regarding COVID-19 and we also take everyone’s temperature.

Every staff member at MLH wears a face mask, regardless of whether they see patients or not. We’re following all the best practices for what is safe for everyone involved.

Click here to learn more about what we're doing at our physician practices, minor medical centers and diagnostic centers.


Why should people seek treatment if they are feeling sick?

The quicker patients seek help, the better chance health care workers have to help that patient. If patients are experiencing an emergency, they need to seek treatment in a timely fashion.

Health care providers like to see patients early in their illness to give the patient the best help as quickly as possible. 


Under what circumstances should people be going to the hospital?

If you think it’s an emergency, you should go to the emergency room.

This is especially important for heart attack and stroke victims. The longer those patients wait to come to the hospital, the fewer options the medical team has for intervention.

Time is of the essence for stroke and heart attack victims. If those patients wait 4-6 hours after their episodes, there are less options for the medical team to give the best care.


How will Methodist keep me safe during my visit?

As COVID-19 remains present in our community, we’re embracing new ways to care for you, including:

Health screening for all visitors and staff upon entrance to any of our facilities

Limiting visitors (more on that policy below)

Providing masks to patients and visitors

Providing hand sanitizer in all public areas

Conducting additional cleaning and disinfecting

Testing of our providers and staff who have direct contact with COVID-19 patients

Testing all patients for COVID-19 prior to elective procedures

Virtual and in-person COVID clinic to provide safe monitoring and specialized care for our patients diagnosed with COVID-19, including patients discharged from the hospital

Virtual appointments and post-operative home monitoring via telehealth

We’re doing everything we can to keep you safe and healthy while you’re in our care. As always, our providers wear appropriate PPE and follow strict guidelines for hand washing and sterilization of facilities and equipment.


Will I be treated near COVID-19 patients?

No. Patients diagnosed with COVID-19 are treated in negative pressure rooms in dedicated areas of our hospitals.

Negative pressure prevents airborne diseases, including COVID, from escaping from the room and flowing into other areas of the hospital.

After use, these rooms undergo rigorous cleaning, using ultraviolet lights to scan for droplets of the virus. 

At Our Facilities

At Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, we have a team of experts carefully monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic. Out of an abundance of caution for our patients, families and staff, we have implemented new screening and visiting policies. These policies will ensure the safety for all those who enter a Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare facility.

The new adult hospital measures — along with other changes or updates at our MLH facilities — are outlined below.

Visitor policy — Visiting is suspended

To protect our patients, staff, visitors and community, all visiting is being suspended until the transmission of COVID-19 is no longer a threat.

No visitors will be allowed in rooms of patients with pending or positive COVID-19 tests.

We recognize there are times when having a visitor or family member present is crucial. In these cases, visitors will be allowed based on the situations listed below.

Please note these exceptions only apply if a visitor screens negative based on travel, contact with known or suspected COVID-19 patients or symptoms of respiratory infection (fever, runny nose, cough, shortness of breath).

Situations include:

  • One parent or legal guardian of the patient who is a minor.
  • Obstetric patients may have one support person to accompany them.
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) patients may have two parents who must remain in the room the duration of the visit.
  • Patients at end-of-life may have a very limited number of visitors who must remain in the room for the duration of the visit.
  • Patients where the family member provides safety (e.g., altered mental or physical status or developmental delay) or is key to patient care (e.g., disruptive behavior) may have one visitor who must stay in the room for the duration of the visit.
  • Patients requiring a home caregiver to be trained must stay in the room for the duration of the visit.
  • Patients undergoing surgery or procedures may have one visitor before and immediately after the procedure/surgery.
  • Patients undergoing outpatient surgery or procedures may have one visitor before and immediately after the surgery/procedure.

Our patient care philosophy depends greatly on engaging families to be part of the healing process. The decision to restrict visitors was difficult and made only after careful consideration with our medical staff.


Screening Patients, Visitors, Associates and Physicians at hospital entry points.

We implemented employee and physician screening on March 19 with all six MLH hospitals. That was expanded to all other MLH facilities on March 23.  

Screenings questions include the CDC's current recommended testing criteria, which will cover symptoms, exposure and travel history, as well as a temperature check.


Minor Meds

Our Minor Medical Centers are open typically open 7 days a week with no appointment necessary. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all locations will be closed on SundaysThis policy will continue to be reevaluated.

If you would like to set up a telehealth appointment, call ahead to the location you would typically visit.


Testing

Methodist Minor Medical Centers are offering COVID-19 testing and COVID-19 antibody testing.

COVID-19 testing is available to patients who are symptomatic or asymptomatic and may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

COVID-19 antibody screening and testing is intended for use as an aid in identifying individuals that had an illness that may have been COVID-19 and have since developed an immunity to the disease.

At this time, it is not known how long antibodies persist following infection or whether the presence of antibodies means you have protective immunity from COVID-19. Negative antibody test results do not rule out COVID-19 infection, particularly in those who have been in recent contact with the virus.

For more information on COVID-19 testing and COVID-19 antibody testing, please call your local Minor Medical Center location.

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare is offering COVID-19 testing at our MLH hospitals under specific conditions. Testing is offered for:

Symptomatic patients — meaning they are displaying symptoms of the novel coronavirus

Asymptomatic patients who need testing ahead of a scheduled surgery


Teleheath

Telehealth is a way to provide patients access to high quality care while limiting contact exposure for patients and caregivers alike and conserving PPE supplies. With telehealth, patient “visits” with providers are performed remotely with the help of telephone and video.

MLH offers telehealth at our Methodist Medical Group primary care practices, as well as in specialty practices in the areas of cardiology, ENT, gastroenterology, allergy, endocrinology, sickle cell and many more.

Certain types of patient visits lend themselves more to telehealth, such as lower respiratory symptoms that might be flu, allergy symptoms or COVID-19, and follow up visits for chronic conditions. Ask your provider if a telehealth visit is right for you.

Learn more about our telehealth services


Classes at MLH Facilities

Due to the presence of COVID-19 in our community, classes are subject to cancelation or rescheduling. 

Classes for May and June at Germantown may not show in the listing below, but there are some courses available. Please reach out via the numbers listed on our Class Finder if you have any questions.


Plasma Donation and Treatment

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare is participating in Mayo Clinic’s Expanded Access Protocol for Convalescent Plasma Program for treatment of patients with COVID-19.

Researchers believe receiving convalescent plasma may help current COVID-19 patients with advanced illness.

Learn more about the program and how you can help by clicking on the tab at the top of this page.


MLH Spiritual Care Helpline

In this unique time, we have launched a 24/7 Spiritual Care Helpline for adult and pediatric spiritual care. Any patient, family member, Associate or physician who desires to connect with a MLH chaplain can do so by calling the adult or pediatric spiritual care phone number.

Patients who cannot receive visitors are highly encouraged to use the helpline. 

One-on-one spiritual care support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Adult Spiritual Care: (901) 516-7877

Pediatric Spiritual Care: (901) 297-2388 


Virtual Support Group for Community Mental Health Providers

As the impact of COVID-19 extends into our community, the mental health burden is continuing to grow. As ethical practitioners, we acknowledge that we need to be mentally well in order to continue in our important work of serving others.

This group is meant to be a place of non-judgmental support for Mid-South mental health professionals as they cope with their own emotions related to COVID-19 — so that they can best continue to meet the mental health needs of the community during this challenging time.

When: 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. every Wednesday via Zoom meeting 

Register in advance: ZOOM MEETING REGISTRATION

 After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Please call your primary care physician if you have been exposed to the new coronavirus, believe you may have been exposed or travelled internationally and have symptoms such as fever, chills or cough. Your physician will help guide you to the appropriate resources for testing and/or treatment.

Community Resources

There are several community resources available for families who need assistance during this uncertain time.

Please call before going to any of the places listed. We are doing our best to keep them update, but these resources are subject to change.

Online General Resource Guides for Families 

One Health Connect — Search by zip code to find free or reduced cost services in the greater Memphis area

Tennessee 211 — Listing of state and local health and human services programs 

Shelby County Division of Community Services — COVID-19 resource guide

Other Community Resources 

Food Resources
Financial and Employment Resources
Health and Education Resources
Transportation and Housing Resources


Ways You Can Help

Your support of the Methodist Healthcare Foundation's COVID-19 Support Fund will help Methodist Healthcare and our hospitals and facilities respond to the current needs of our caregivers, patients, families, and community. This will include enabling MLH to purchase needed supplies, medical equipment, food, and other resources so that our caregivers can provide safe and compassionate care to those most in need.

Click here if you're interested in donating to the COVID-19 Support Fund.

If you have physical supplies such as N95 masks or surgical masks that you would like to donate, please click here for more information about supplies needed by Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare. 

Click here for instructions on how to make your own face masks and send them to Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare.

If you are a fully recovered COVID-19 patient who is interested in learning more about donating convalescent plasma to help others fight the virus, click here or click the Plasma Donation & Treatment tab at the top of this page.

Convalescent Plasma Donation and Treatment

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare is participating in Mayo Clinic’s Expanded Access Protocol for Convalescent Plasma Program for treatment of patients with COVID-19.

Convalescent plasma is the liquid part of the blood that is collected from people who have recovered from COVID-19.

Researchers believe receiving that plasma may help current COVID-19 patients with advanced illness. The antibodies in the plasma may have the ability to help patients fight the virus and recover more quickly.

Learn more about the program, our first convalescent plasma donor, how you can help and more by clicking here.

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