The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic saw hospitals nationwide cancel all but emergent surgeries to keep people out of the buildings and safely away from any potential contact with the lethal virus.

With the COVID-19 peak for hospitalizations passed in Connecticut, those days are about to pass, and Dr. Ajay Kumar, chief clinical officer with Hartford HealthCare (HHC), said people who have put off having procedures during the pandemic can seek help at the system’s seven hospitals with confidence that they are clean and safe.

“People have been delaying surgery because of fear but the healthcare system is ready to take care of you,” he said during the daily HHC media briefing. “We do not recommend putting off procedures any longer.”

HHC has kept staff and patient safety top of mind throughout the pandemic, and Dr. Kumar listed the following added steps that have been taken:

  • Every staff member has a temperature check before being allowed into the hospital to check for fever, one of the leading signs of COVID-19.
  • Forward triage practices have been established in the emergency departments so every patient who comes in for care is tested for the virus. Patients who test positive or are even questionable are isolated so they “cannot contribute to the spread of the disease” to others, Dr. Kumar said.
  • Teams are monitoring staff hand hygiene at all times.
  • HHC hospital facilities have adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff and patients.
  • A universal mask policy requires anyone in the hospitals to wear a face mask.
  • Social distancing prohibits any meetings of more than 10 people.
  • Environmental services crews follow cleaning techniques outlined by the Centers for Disease Control “or better,” according to Dr. Kumar.

“This is a safer environment in many ways than before the pandemic,” he said.

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