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Hospital to resume surgical electives

Members of the Surgical Services team at Uniontown Hospital are pictured in a post-operative bay at the hospital Wednesday. Hospital officials announced they will resume elective surgical procedures beginning Monday.

By the Herald-Standard

As the number of new COVID-19 cases begins to slow, the state has given hospitals the go ahead to resume elective surgical procedures.

Uniontown Hospital will begin outpatient procedures on Monday, and inpatient elective surgical procedures on May 18.

"While we are continuing to monitor and adapt to the challenges presented by COVID-19, we are confident in the care we can provide to our patients, maintaining their safety, and ensuring their best health by resuming these types of services," Uniontown Hospital CEO Steve Handy said.

With an expected increase in foot traffic, Director of Community Relations Josh Krysak said the hospital has protocols in place, including strict screenings and increased cleaning procedures, to ensure patients’ health and safety.

He said the hospital has a backlog of hundreds of elective procedures, put on hold in mid-March as hospitals across the state and country braced for a surge of COVID-19 patients.

Fayette County is among those counties that never experienced a surge in cases in the way many eastern counties did. As of Wednesday, there were 84 cases in Fayette, according to the state Department of Health.

Krysak said the hospital has a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment to safely resume the non-emergency surgeries, while ensuring they are prepared should case numbers begin to rise.

Those who had a procedure delayed should reach out to the physician who ordered it so it can be rescheduled, Krysak said.

Under the hospital’s protocols, most patients will have to undergo a pre-operative COVID-19 test between 72 and 96 hours prior to their procedure, and then remain in isolation until the scheduled date. Any who test positive will not be scheduled for surgery.

Those patients who are getting a local anesthetic or spinal anesthetic will not have to undergo virus testing.

As the hospital resumes elective procedures, Krysak said a remote testing site at the former Kmart in South Union Township and a triage trailer outside of the emergency department will remain operational.

And although the hospital continues to be closed to all visitors and has been since mid-March, Krysak said officials review that policy often.

“We are watching closely, and when we feel it is appropriate it will be something we bring back,” he said.

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