NEWARK, NJ - Following newly released COVID-19 guidelines issued today
by the state Department of Health, Saint Michael’s Medical Center,
a member of Prime Healthcare, announced that it will resume elective surgeries
and invasive procedures on May 26.
Dr. Claudia Komer, a chief medical officer at Saint Michael’s Medical
Center, said definitive steps are underway to ensure the safe, effective
restart of clinical care operations and procedures. The hospital, she
said, is focused on addressing the needs of the community by resuming
access to medical and surgical care.
“The hospital will be carefully monitoring the virus’s ongoing
impact to the community and will maintain its ability to properly respond
to the coronavirus as we begin providing patients with the essential care
they need,” Dr. Komer said. “We want to assure our patients
that we are implementing best practices and will do everything we can
to keep them safe.”
In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 in New Jersey and free up hospital
resources, Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order 109 on March 23
suspending elective surgeries and invasive procedures.
On Friday, the governor signed Executive Order 145 reversing the suspension
and directing the state Health Department and the Division of Consumer
Affairs to issue policies and guidelines today.
“While still focusing on the importance of our COVID-19 response,
our health care systems now have the capacity and resources to resume
the critical role of serving their patients and ensuring the health of
our communities,” Murphy said.
A committee of physicians and other clinical leaders at Saint Michael’s
has been meeting regularly to ensure safe resumption of essential health
care services, including non-emergent surgeries and procedures.
Saint Michael’s patients will be screened and tested for COVID-19
72-hours prior to any surgery even if there are no signs or symptoms of
the infection. Saint Michael’s has created special units for COVID-19,
ensuring non COVID-19 patients remain separate. The hospital also has
a transitional floor for admitted patients awaiting test results.
All of the hospital’s healthcare workforce will also be tested regularly
to protect patients.
Surgery patients are allowed one visitor to the hospital to accompany them
to the waiting area. All patients and visitors must pass through a hospital
screening station upon entering the building.
Saint Michael’s Medical Center is among the safest hospitals in New
Jersey. The hospital recently was awarded
an A in patient safety from the Leapfrog Group for the fourth period in a row and is a recipient of the Healthgrades Patient Safety Excellence Award.
Dr. Sonia Mehta, the Region II chief medical officer and corporate CEO
for Prime Healthcare who is serving as interim CEO of Saint Michael’s,
said patient safety remains the highest priority at all Prime hospitals
and that supplies of personal protective equipment such as masks, gowns
and gloves are more than adequate to treat both COVID-19 patients and
those undergoing important elective procedures and surgeries.
“Resuming these important services is essential to our mission of
providing quality, community healthcare,” Dr. Mehta said. “As
a health system, Prime remains committed to conserving critical supplies,
being vigilant in our fight against COVID-19 and its evolving impact,
and ensuring that our facilities are safe places for all patients, providers
In addition to Saint Michael’s, Prime Healthcare operates Saint Clare’s
Health in Morris County and St. Mary’s General Hospital in Passaic
in New Jersey.
The hospital’s Emergency Department remains open for all those seeking
emergency care. Following physical distancing guidelines for COVID-19
does not mean ignoring the signs or symptoms of other medical emergencies.
“Those experiencing signs of a heart attack or stroke, for instance,
such as difficulty breathing or sudden muscle weakness, should still call
911 or visit the emergency room immediately,” said Dr. Ramy Yakobi,
the chair of Saint Michael’s Emergency Department.
“We are well prepared to handle non-COVID emergencies as well as
able to deal with an influx of potential COVID-19 cases, and are following
all state, local and federal guidelines to safeguard our staff and other
patients from exposure.”