Following newly released COVID-19 guidelines announced by state and local health officials, Lake Huron Medical Center, a member of Prime Healthcare, has begun scheduling elective surgeries and procedures.

Jose Kottoor, Chief Executive Officer of Lake Huron Medical Center, said a careful and structured move toward restarting clinical care operations and procedures has begun in order to address the needs of the community and expand access to medical and surgical care. The hospital is following guidelines and a roadmap that were established by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the American College of Surgeons, American Society of Anesthesiologists, Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses and the American Hospital Association.

“The hospital will be carefully monitoring the virus’s ongoing impact to the community and will maintain its ability to properly respond to the coronavirus as we begin serving patients with the essential care they need,” said Kottoor. “We want to assure our patients and community that we are implementing best practices and will do everything we can to keep them safe.”

A committee of physicians and other clinical leaders at Lake Huron Medical Center was formed to ensure safe resumption of essential health care services, including non-emergent surgeries and procedures. Staff and patients will be screened and tested for COVID-19 prior to any surgery. Steps are taken to minimize any risks and make certain that COVID-19 patients are isolated from non-COVID-19 patients. New policies have been developed and will be reevaluated and reassessed as needed.

Surgery patients are allowed one visitor to the hospital to accompany them to the waiting area. All patients and visitors must pass through a hospital screening station where symptoms will be checked prior to entering the building and must remain masked and practice social distancing while in the building.

Saju George, Regional CEO of Prime Healthcare, said patient safety remains the highest priority at all Prime hospitals and that supplies of personal protective equipment such as masks, gowns and gloves are more than adequate to treat both COVID-19 patients and those undergoing important elective procedures and surgeries.

“Resuming these important services is essential to our mission of providing quality, community healthcare,” said George. “As a health system, Prime remains committed to conserving critical supplies, being vigilant in our fight against COVID-19 and its evolving impact and ensuring that our facilities are safe places for all patients, providers and staff.”

In addition, stay-at-home orders issued by public health agencies make exceptions for those in need of other emergency medical treatments, and the hospital’s Emergency Department remains open for all those seeking emergency care. Following physical distancing guidelines for COVID-19 does not mean ignoring the signs or symptoms of other medical emergencies.

“Those experiencing signs of a heart attack or stroke, for instance, such as difficulty breathing or sudden muscle weakness, should still call 911 or visit the emergency room immediately,” added Kottoor. “We are well prepared to handle non-COVID emergencies as well as able to deal with an influx of potential COVID-19 cases, and are following all state, local and federal guidelines to safeguard our staff and other patients from exposure.”

Lake Huron Medical Center was awarded an ‘A’ in the spring 2020 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, a national distinction recognizing the hospital’s achievements in providing safer health care. We recently were also rated a five-star facility by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), placing it in the top 9% of hospitals nationwide. Lake Huron Medical Center is the only hospital in St. Clair County to earn an A, the highest grade, and to be a five-star hospital. Additionally, Lake Huron Medical Center received the Level III trauma center designation from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. This three-year designation means Lake Huron Medical Center will be able to treat patients with more serious, possibly life-threatening injuries.

For more than 65 years, Lake Huron Medical Center has been providing high quality, compassionate healthcare to our community. Our mission remains the same for the next 65 years: to continue to deliver compassionate, quality care to patients and better healthcare to communities.