With the state relaxing some business and travel restrictions and the apparent effectiveness of our communities’ response in limiting the spread of coronavirus, Mercy is taking careful, deliberate steps to reactivate services previously postponed.
The reactivation will be done in phases to ensure that resuming services does not result in coronavirus exposures or a surge in COVID-19 cases. Phase 1 primarily involves the return of essential services such as surgeries, imaging and diagnostics. Phase 2 will include services that are non-emergency but medically necessary. Phase 3 begins a return to the normal capacity of Mercy’s services.
Mercy’s Arkansas locations have begun reactivating services including imaging and outpatient elective surgeries, with cases selected and prioritized by clinical need, age and other criteria. Endoscopy and screening mammography services are scheduled to reopen next week at Mercy Fort Smith. Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas has scheduled outpatient therapy, mammography, cardiac rehabilitation, sleep services and pain management to begin next week.
Mercy has established three specific criteria that must be met for procedures to be rescheduled: The community must have seen 14 days of decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations, Mercy must have adequate personal protective equipment for patients and co-workers and enough COVID-19 testing supplies for patients to be tested within 48 hours of their procedures.
Mercy is taking extra steps to safeguard facilities according to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Gov. Asa Hutchinson, including implementing social distancing in waiting rooms and reducing patient volumes. Mercy’s locations will continue to screen patients upon entering facilities.
Mercy’s policies require all patients and any visitors to use face coverings while at Mercy facilities. Mercy’s visitor policies remain in place and can be seen at https://www.mercy.net/covid/.
Mercy facilities in Berryville, Booneville, Ozark, Paris and Waldron will follow similar reactivation plans. Mercy Clinic Orthopedics – River Valley in Fort Smith reopened to orthopedic patients May 6.
“We will proceed in a methodical way, but we are eager to get back to doing what we do best, which is taking care of the comprehensive health care needs of our community,” said Eric Pianalto, president of Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas in Rogers. “We are deeply grateful for our community’s patience and generosity as you have supported us through these challenging times. Safety and quality care will continue to be our highest priorities as we carefully navigate our way back toward normal.”
Ryan Gehrig, president of Mercy Hospital Fort Smith, agreed, adding, “Providing a safe environment for the patients who depend on us is our first concern. We are encouraged to see procedures and elective surgeries begin again but will follow all the necessary guidelines to ensure our patients are safe and protected.”