Resuming Elective Procedures FAQs | MedStar Health

Resuming Elective Procedures FAQs

Section I: Clean and Safe

  • Q: Are MedStar Health facilities safe?
    A: MedStar Health has always focused on providing a safe, clean, and secure environment. Our team members are highly trained in taking all the necessary precautions to protect our patients, their loved ones, and our team members.

    Since the start of the COVID19 pandemic, MedStar Health has taken additional steps to ensure it is safe to be treated at our facilities. We have a careful and measured approach to determine which procedures can safely be performed, where they can take place, and when they can be performed. We have a strict set of criteria that must be met before any procedures can resume.

    Additionally, we are following local government requirements from the Maryland Department of Health, the District of Columbia Department of Health, and the Virginia Department of Health to resume care safely.
  • Q: What are some specific precautions that you are taking at your facilities to ensure a safe environment?
    A: MedStar Health has taken extra precautions to help patients feel at ease during their care. Each member of our team is focused on keeping our patients and visitors safe. Here’s what our patients can expect:
    • Safe providers: Our physicians, nurses, and other healthcare team members use the proper safety gear and hand hygiene practices to protect themselves and patients--keeping everyone healthy.
    • Masking: Just like MedStar Health associates, all patients and visitors are required to wear masks during their visits, regardless of symptoms. We will provide a mask, if needed.
    • Cleaning and disinfecting: We thoroughly sanitize and disinfect all patient exam, waiting, and procedure rooms multiple times each day, and after each clinical visit.
    • Hand sanitizing: Hand sanitizer dispensing stations are available throughout every facility.
    • Staggered appointments: We are carefully managing our schedules to minimize the number of people coming through our waiting rooms at one time.
    • Screening patients and visitors: We are screening all patients and approved visitors for symptoms at every hospital, medical center, and medical office location.
      • Elective surgery patients will be tested for COVID-19 prior to the scheduled date of the procedure.
    • Physical distancing: While inside our facilities, floor markers, signage, and reconfigured waiting areas help every practice physical distancing.
  • Q: Is MedStar Health prepared to start performing elective procedures?
    A: Yes, we are prepared. In fact, we have been preparing since January, when a panel of experts was set up to oversee all safe practices, to keep our patients, visitors, and associates safe. This panel includes physicians, nurses, and safety experts with specialized knowledge in infectious disease, infection prevention, clinical quality, environmental safety, and more. These teams have focused on protection of both patients and care providers.

    We realize the importance of not delaying your care and are ready to restart elective procedures, surgeries and ambulatory operations. In fact, MedStar Health has been proactively planning and preparing for the reinstatement of elective procedures to ensure it is done in the safest possible way. An Executive and Clinical leadership workgroup built a plan to ensure that we are prepared as more and more patients seek elective care.
    • When the governor of Maryland reinstated elective procedures, we committed to diligently follow our planning process in order to ensure that we could continue to provide the best and safest care.
    • We are following all governmental requirements for reinstating elective procedures, including ensuring all MedStar Health team members and patients are screened for COVID-19 symptoms, and reinforcing physical distancing requirements. For some requirements, such as a state requirement to maintain a seven-day minimum of PPE supplies, MedStar Health holds a much higher standard.
    • Our process prioritizes elective surgical cases based on the urgency of the patient’s condition.
    • For non-surgical cases, we’ve taken steps to assure a safe environment by using staggered scheduling and physical distancing in waiting areas.
    • We continue to provide MedStar Health Video Visits and telephone consultations as an option for those who choose to stay at home but would like to receive care.

Section II: Which Procedures Are Being Resumed

  • Q: Which procedures are being resumed?
    A: This will be a gradual process so we will not be able to provide every service right away. Some procedures may be prioritized based on urgency, location where it can be performed, and other factors. The safety of our patients and caregivers will remain our driving priority. Contact your physician’s office to find out when you will be able to schedule your procedure.
  • Q: Why are you resuming some procedures?
    A: MedStar Health paused scheduled elective procedures in order to maximize your safety by reducing transmission of the virus, preserving personal protective equipment (PPE) for priority COVID-19 cases, and to expand capacity for a potential surge of COVID-19 patients. This approach was consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and from our local governments.

    Recently, national, state, and local health officials, and associations of medical professionals have released criteria for safely resuming scheduled procedures. We will only restart procedures after we have met those criteria and confirm that we are resuming in a way that is safe for our patients and team members.
  • Q: When will my procedure be scheduled?
    A: If you had a procedure that was postponed, we will contact you to reschedule. Otherwise, please contact your doctor’s office to find out when you may be able to schedule your procedure.
  • Q: Why has my procedure not been rescheduled yet?
    A: Our priority is patient safety and ensuring that we’re adhering to the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as other local and state agencies.

    If you have questions about your procedure, please contact your physician’s office directly for an update.

Section III: The Experience

  • Q: Will my experience be the same as in the past?
    A: To keep you safe, your experience at MedStar Health will be different than in the past. New processes and procedures are in place to further protect you and our associates. You will be cared for by the same dedicated team members who have always focused on providing you with a safe and outstanding experience.
  • Q: What should I expect when I arrive?
    A: To protect your health, your experience will be different than it was before COVID-19. When you arrive for a procedure, you will be screened for symptoms before entering the facility. You are required to wear a mask at all times during your visit. If you do not have an appropriate mask, one will be provided to you. To ensure the safety of all, we also have a modified visitor policy in effect.
  • Q: What should I expect during my procedure?
    A: Upon arrival at our facility, you will be asked standard screening questions and be provided with a cloth mask, if you do not have one. If you have an appropriate mask (without vents) or bandana that covers your mouth and nose, you may wear it.

    MedStar Health has a modified visitor policy which limits most visitors. Anyone accompanying you or serving as a designated contact person, such as a family member, loved one, or caregiver, will not be permitted to enter the facility with you when you arrive (exceptions are outlined in the detailed policy). We will gather the person’s contact information for follow up and updates about your care. We will also provide instructions for pick up.

    While you are here for a procedure, you may see no other patients, and for now, that is intentional. We are currently minimizing overlap in scheduling to better promote physical distancing, conserve resources, and protect patients and our team members.

    Our care team will be wearing protective equipment, so you may not see their entire face. We do regret this, as the personal connections we have with our patients and community are personally and professional fulfilling for us. However, this important precaution will protect you and our clinical staff.
  • Q: Will I be treated near COVID-19 patients?
    A: No, MedStar Health is not performing elective/non-urgent procedures on COVID-19 positive patients. COVID-19 positive patients who are admitted to our hospitals are treated separately from other patients.
  • Q: Will I be in the same areas where patients with COVID-19 have been treated?
    A: We are taking significant steps to reduce risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission, including designated areas for non-COVID patients; screening all employees, visitors, and patients for COVID-19 symptoms; and requiring that all healthcare workers, patients, and visitors wear a mask during their visit. We are also promoting physical distancing by minimizing time in waiting areas and spacing seating at least six feet apart.

Section IV: Screening and Testing

  • Q: Will I have to repeat my pre-admission testing?
    A: Once your procedure has been rescheduled, your physician will contact you to discuss your individualized care plan and reorder any pre-admission testing required prior to the scheduled appointment.
  • Q: Will I be tested for COVID-19 before my surgery?
    A: Yes. All patients scheduled for a surgical procedure will be required to have a COVID-19 test as part of pre-operative testing.
  • Q: What questions are asked during the COVID-19 screening?
    A: When you arrive, you will be screened for COVID-19 upon arrival. We will ask about symptoms you may have such as:
    • Fever
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath
    • Chills
    • Repeated shaking with chills
    • Muscle pain
    • Headache
    • Sore throat
    • New loss of taste or smell
    When asked, please answer these questions honestly. If your procedure has to be postponed, it is only to help ensure your safety and the safety of your healthcare team. The postponement does not mean that the procedure is canceled. We will work with you to reschedule as soon as possible.
  • Q: What if I test positive for COVID-19?
    A: Patients must test negative for COVID-19 prior to surgery in order to move forward with the procedure. If a patient tests positive prior to surgery/procedure, their surgery/procedure will be postponed unless the procedure is deemed urgent or emergent.
  • Q: What do I need to do to prepare for my appointment/procedure?
    A: On the day of your procedure, you can expect the following safety precautions:
    • Upon arriving at the facility, you will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and have your temperature taken. You will be required to wear a mask for the duration of your visit.
    • Visitor restrictions are in place. Please note, one adult companion will be permitted only if required for direct patient assistance. No children are allowed in our facilities at this time unless undergoing a procedure. Families are being asked to wait away from the facility and return at time of patient discharge.
    • Physical distancing will be observed in all patient care areas. Waiting areas have been reconfigured for proper distancing, and physical barriers, such as curtains, will be used if needed.

Section V: Visitors

  • Q: Can a family member or friend come with me to the facility?
    A: To protect the safety of our patients and team members, the following temporary visitor guidelines are in place:
    • Inpatient locations:
    • Ambulatory (outpatient) locations
      • One visitor is permitted to accompany a patient for an ambulatory visit (e.g., urgent care) only to help facilitate care or treatment, such as a parent of a child, or an individual assisting the patient with a wheelchair, walking, or other care/support
      • All visitors must be screened for COVID-19 symptoms upon arrival
  • Q: Will visitors be screened for COVID-19?
    A: Yes. Approved visitors may have their temperature taken and be asked a series of COVID-19 related questions. If the visitor has symptoms, the visitor will not be allowed to enter the facility.
  • Q: Will patients be given a mask when entering the hospital/medical center?
    A: Yes. Patients scheduled for an appointment or surgery will be provided a mask if they do not have one.

Section VI: Others

  • Q: We are still encouraged to stay at home. Doesn't scheduling procedures conflict with this?
    A: No. Given the importance of medical care for the health and wellbeing of the population, the governors of Maryland and Virginia recently issued executive orders that allow for hospitals and outpatient centers to resume normal operations if certain criteria are met. After reviewing the orders, MedStar Health has determined we can provide care in a safe environment for our patients and team members. This means adhering to strict safety protocols, limiting visitors, and continuing to practice physical distancing guidelines.
  • Q: My employment status and insurance has changed since my surgery/procedure was postponed. Can I still reschedule?
    A: We understand your concern. Your physician will work with you to reschedule your appointment. Because of the change in insurance, you will need to obtain pre-certification again since the prior approval was for your previous insurance.
  • Q: If I have more questions, whom should I contact?
    A: If you have any questions, please call your physician’s office.