Phoebe Plans to Phase In Medically Necessary Procedures

Staff Report From Albany CEO

Monday, May 4th, 2020

Beginning Monday, May 4, on its main campus in Albany, Phoebe will begin phasing in services for medically necessary outpatient procedures, surgeries and diagnostic services that have been delayed during the COVID-19 response.  Phoebe will also open all of its Phoebe Physicians offices, and outpatient services at Phoebe Sumter will come back online soon.  “For nearly two months, we have poured our time, energy and resources into leading our community through the COVID-19 crisis.  The crisis is not over, and we will continue to meet the COVID-related healthcare needs of southwest Georgia, but we are also now in a position to carefully and safely restart some other services that were curtailed during our coronavirus response. The safety of our patients and the Phoebe Family will guide every decision we make as we move forward,” said Scott Steiner, Phoebe Putney Health System Chief Executive Officer. 

Phoebe’s extensive efforts to prevent COVID-19 transmission far exceed recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  “We have gone to incredible lengths to clean and sanitize facilities throughout our health system.  Our EVS crews are using bleach and foggers to disinfect units where COVID-19 patients have been treated.  We have also enlisted the assistance of specialized National Guard teams to assist with the deep cleaning of both clinical and non-clinical areas of the hospital in addition to fogging all of our Phoebe Physicians locations with a sanitizing solution as an added precaution.  We will also have Safety First teams continually wiping down public areas throughout our hospitals and clinics,” said Joe Austin, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Chief Executive Officer.

For all appointments, everyone entering a Phoebe facility will be temperature-screened, given a mask if they don’t have one and will be required to use hand sanitizer.  All Phoebe employees will also wear masks.  Patients will be asked to arrive no earlier than 10 minutes before scheduled appointments.  Seating in all waiting areas has been adjusted to adhere to social distancing guidelines, and the number of people will be limited.

Emergency Center – We will have separate waiting areas for COVID-19 and non-COVID patients. The COVID-19 waiting area will be separately ventilated for extra protection. There will be a separate treatment area for patients under investigation for coronavirus, and Phoebe is instituting enhanced cleaning procedures and additional dedicated EVS staff to ensure there is a fulltime, consistent clean team in the emergency center.

Surgical Services – COVID-19 testing will be done 3-5 days prior to a scheduled procedure, after which the patients will be required to practice self-isolation until the day of the procedure.  Patients who test positive will have procedures rescheduled. Patients will be allowed only one caregiver to accompany them on the day of their procedure and will be asked to arrive no earlier than 10 minutes before their scheduled appointment.  In addition, a task force of regional physicians is closely monitoring local data and guidelines from the CDC and American College of Surgeons.  Outpatient surgeries that meet current criteria and are time-sensitive will be the first to be scheduled.

“We will clearly explain the COVID-19 testing process to all patients scheduled for surgery.  While this is an added step in their pre-surgery process, we hope patients understand we’re doing this to protect them, our staff and others in our community.  We will follow stringent cleaning and sterilization procedures in all our operating suites to guarantee the safest possible experience for all of our patients,” said Jason Williams, MD, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Medical Director of Perioperative Services.

Phoebe Physicians – Patients will be asked to arrive no earlier than 10 minutes before scheduled appointments. They will be given the option to wait in their car.  Each practice will have a dedicated check-in phone line which patients can call when they arrive. They can check in using a smart phone and will receive a call or text when the provider is ready to see them.  Patients will be encouraged to come alone; however, if they require assistance, they will be allowed to bring one person with them.

“We are going to extraordinary lengths to make sure patients not only receive safe, quality care, but have an excellent experience when they visit a Phoebe Physicians facility.  We will make it as easy as possible to access care in our offices.  We also will continue to offer telehealth appointments.  Patients can request a virtual visit from our primary care providers and some of our specialty care providers by calling 229-312-MYMD,” said Suresh Lakhanpal, MD, Phoebe Physicians President.

Phoebe will continue to evaluate operations daily and will make modifications as necessary and will communicate any updates and changes publicly. 

“We want to stress that no one should delay care for any illness, injury or chronic condition because of fear of coronavirus.  We want everyone to know our ERs, urgent cares and primary and specialty care clinics are open and ready to serve them.  We will provide quality, compassionate care in safe environments in every Phoebe facility, and we look forward to the opportunity to serve our patients” Steiner said.