Beebe Healthcare Enters COVID-19 Recovery Phase; Will Reactivate Elective Surgeries June 1
David Tam, MD, MBA, FACHE, President and CEO of Beebe Healthcare, announced today that due to everyone’s efforts to “flatten the curve,” Beebe Healthcare is entering the Recovery phase of the pandemic and will be reactivating to perform elective surgeries and other procedures on June 1 that were postponed starting March at the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic Crisis.
Urgent and emergent surgeries and procedures have been performed at Beebe’s Margaret H. Rollins Lewes Campus throughout the pandemic. Beebe has continued to keep its operating rooms open to surgeons for procedures that were emergent as determined by the patient’s surgeon in partnership with the hospital. What will be restarted now are the non-emergent and elective procedures that have been postponed, phased in to ensure there are appropriate safety precautions for patients, family members, and health system staff.
While these postponed non-emergent and elective surgery cases will be performed beginning on June 1, Beebe is already working with surgeons, specialists and other physicians to schedule these patients as quickly as possible. Beebe has developed a phased approach for these procedures that helps ensure the safety of both patients and team members, while still enabling preparedness for a potential second surge or spike in hospitalizations. Patients who are waiting to reschedule their postponed surgery, imaging or lab appointment will receive a call either from their provider or from Beebe’s scheduling team over the next several weeks to schedule those appointments. Patients with questions about their individual circumstance are encouraged to call their healthcare provider’s office.
“I am very pleased with the intentional and methodical plan that was developed by my physician-led, multidisciplinary team,” said Dr. Tam. “As with everything else Beebe does, this plan has safety as its paramount focus. Everyone at Beebe has been eager to get back to the ‘new normal’ as quickly as we can, with necessary and appropriate measures in place, including a decline in cases and hospitalizations. Thanks to the hard work of my team and the community, it looks as though we have successfully flattened the curve and that it is now safe to resume non-emergent and elective surgical cases in a phased manner. I want to thank everyone in our community for their support and their patience during this very difficult and unprecedented time. We thank you for the privilege of caring for you, and we look forward to providing you with an exceptional experience.”
Patients are already accustomed to the highest standard of safety and quality at all Beebe care sites. The pandemic has created a need for an innovative expansion on those efforts. For this reason, patients will experience many safety measures in place at all of Beebe’s care sites, conveniently located throughout Sussex County. These safety measures, which are already in place in some locations, will include physical barriers like Plexiglas at registration areas, visual cues on floors and other places to remind everyone about physical distancing, reminders about the requirements of face coverings, pre-surgery COVID-19 testing for all surgery patients, scheduled appointments for all lab and imaging visits, waiting room modifications, and car-side registration/waiting in some locations, and extra cleaning and disinfecting protocols.
Beebe continues to maintain two 24/7 emergency departments; the main emergency department at the Lewes Campus and the freestanding emergency department at Beebe’s South Coastal Health Campus near Millville. Both emergency departments have strict safety protocols in place to protect patients and team members, including physical Plexiglas barriers at registration, waiting room modifications which allow for those with respiratory-like symptoms to be separated from those with other symptoms, visual cues for physical distancing and face covering requirements. Beebe Healthcare stresses the importance of not putting off emergency care due to fear of COVID-19. Please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department if you are experiencing an emergency.
Beebe has also innovated for patient safety, access and convenience during the past few months. These innovations include the development of a comprehensive mobile car-based and walk-up process for community COVID-19 testing. This process has involved testing algorithms by the Beebe team led by Dr. Bill Chasanov, infectious disease and travel medicine physician and Clinical Transformation Officer. Those algorithms have been folded into a process that has been implemented in collaboration with the state and many community partners. Stephen Keiser, Vice President of Operations for Beebe Medical Group, was honored by the Georgetown Police Department for his role in leading this overall effort, which resulted in thousands of tests.
Another innovation is the enactment of tele-medicine visits at all Beebe Medical Group (BMG) practices. BMG is the employed physician practice group of Beebe Healthcare. These telemedicine visits are delivered via video or phone. Additionally, BMG has maintained in-person visits throughout the pandemic where needed. Telemedicine will continue as an option for all BMG patients moving forward. Another innovation for BMG includes the development of a comprehensive COVID-19 screening and assessment line, which enables community members without access to a primary care provider to get screened for COVID-19, receive an order for one of BMG’s many mobile car-based testing sites, get answers to their questions about COVID-19, or be assessed for another health need. BMG has also opened a COVID Positive Care Center, for patients who require in-person care as well as lab and imaging appointments related to the virus. Most recently, BMG has enacted remote patient monitoring, which allows a BMG provider to monitor a patient for a health condition from the comfort of their own home.
Beebe has implemented internal and external video virtual town halls at the start of the pandemic, as a way to quickly and thoroughly communicate timely material to all audiences. The town halls for the public are delivered via Facebook Live. This new technology continues to be used to communicate directly to the community as well as to internal Beebe team members.
“Beebe has emerged from the crisis phase of this pandemic a stronger health system,” said Dr. Tam. “We have been forced to move more quickly than we ever had before, to rapidly innovate, and to be more flexible than usual in the face of prolonged crisis. This pandemic has shown us the real depths of our resolve, our capacity to enact real and lasting change, and our aptitude for critical thinking and creative problem-solving under pressure. My team has developed protocols, processes and programs that have pushed Beebe forward as regional healthcare leaders. Although there is more work to do before we can put this pandemic behind us, what it has taught us, and shown me, is that Team Beebe has the fortitude, talent and skill to bring this health system into the next 100 years.”