Surgery centers could play a major role in mitigating the COVID-19 crisis, healthcare strategists say.
Five ways outpatient facilities are contributing to relief efforts:
1. Offering screening or testing. Urbana, Ill.-based Carle health system converted a former surgery center into a testing site. Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center in San Antonio is offering drive-thru screening. They're among many surgery centers being repurposed as the global outbreak worsens.
2. Expanding COVID-19 treatment capacity. Vermont, Conn.-based Rockville General Hospital is sending its surgical cases to Manchester (Conn.) Memorial, which has a surgery center. Jamestown (N.D.) Regional Medical Center is using its surgery center as a COVID-19 patient overflow site. Overall, using ASCs could increase the national supply of ICU beds by 21 percent and boost the national supply of medical-surgical beds by 8 percent, according to a model by Array Analytics.
3. Donating ventilators and other essential supplies. The Kugler Vision refractive surgery center in Omaha, Neb., and The Bloomington (Ill.) Eye Institute, an ophthalmology surgery center, are both offering to share surgical supplies with hospitals that need them. Mankato (Minn.) Surgery Center administrator Joleen Harrison, BSN, RN, is collecting blue wrap donations to make medical face masks for local emergency coalitions. In Illinois, Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker directly asked all ASCs to donate unused personal protective equipment.
4. Suspending elective procedures. ASCs across the nation have either limited services or temporarily closed to conserve needed supplies and protect caregivers and patients. Governors in 27 states have directed providers to postpone elective procedures, according to the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association.
5. Making staffing changes. Northern Wyoming Surgical Center is cross-training its nursing staff to assist with staffing concerns. Jon Van Valkenburg, president of the New York State Association of Ambulatory Surgery Centers, said outpatient staff may temporarily take on new responsibilities as community needs change.
More articles on surgery centers:
21 ASCs with coronavirus restrictions or closures
How gastroenterology practices are responding to COVID-19
How COVID-19 has affected Tenet, HCA Healthcare and Surgery Partners' shares