While putting normal operations on hold, Stanford Health Care leaders established many new safety protocols, including the consistent use of masks and other personal protective equipment among health care workers, symptom screening of employees before building entry, and testing of certain patients prior to their hospital admission or procedures. Providers also made an important shift to virtual visits, which don’t involve physical contact between providers and patients. Entwistle said that 71% of all outpatient visits are now through telehealth.
‘Ready to resume’
When, as a result of the shelter-in-place and physical-distancing measures ordered by the county, the surge of patients didn’t arrive, leaders looked to the future. Last week, Stanford Health Care staff started rescheduling patient procedures, and this week procedure rooms will operate at about 50% to 60% capacity. Amy Semple, RN, administrative director of operations, said she expects to be back to 100% within about three weeks and noted that providers are now performing all procedures except for cosmetic ones.
“With all the cases that have been waiting, it shouldn’t take long before we’re back to normal,” she said.
Bill Maloney, MD, the Boswell Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the School of Medicine, said that about 1,200 orthopaedic patients have had their procedures put on hold since the pandemic began. Last week, staff starting calling them to reschedule their surgeries. About 85% of patients expressed a desire to come in soon, he said.
At his clinic at the outpatient center in Redwood City, which has been gearing up for a return to normal, his staff has organized the schedule so that patients will remain apart from one another. “Redwood City is beautifully designed,” he said. “It’s perfectly set up to encourage social distancing.”
Norman Rizk, MD, chief medical officer for Stanford Health Care, said that health care workers have enough protective equipment to ensure their safety and that of patients. Given that the infection rate of Stanford Health Care workers is very low — less than 1% — “we know that our personal protective equipment is working,” he said.
He added that the hospitals and clinics will continue to keep the new safety protocols in effect: Everyone inside a Stanford Health Care facility will still be required to wear a mask, visitors will not be allowed, all appointments that don’t require a physical exam will be conducted via video or telephone, and health care workers will have their symptoms checked daily.