April 24, 2020
St. Peter’s Health today announced the organization will initiate its plan to gradually begin reopening services that were temporarily canceled due to COVID-19 beginning Monday, May 4. The reopening will occur in phases and could take several months based on multiple factors including the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community. This decision follows Governor Steve Bullock’s directive to lift portions of the state’s stay-at-home order on April 27.
Plans call for a phased reintroduction of elective surgeries and procedures, diagnostic imaging studies, physical therapy appointments and in-person clinic visits. At every stage, patient visits must meet criteria established by a multi-disciplinary team of providers and infection prevention specialists to identify the level of priority, ensure the highest level of safety and continue to safeguard high-risk individuals.
“We are very fortunate to have minimal COVID-19 activity in our area, and we believe this is a direct result of our community’s proactive social distancing measures,” said St. Peter’s Health CEO Wade Johnson. “These decisions are being made in consultation with public health officials, clinicians and partners throughout our community, and we intend to be thoughtful and cautious as we begin phasing back into routine operations.”
Strict prevention measures will remain in place throughout St. Peter’s campus until further notice, including visitor restrictions, screening and masking requirements for patients and staff, and continued separation of patients with respiratory symptoms. The organization instituted these restrictions and temporarily postponed many non-urgent health care services in early March to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and protect patients and caregivers. As St. Peter’s reopens, it will add new preventative measures to maintain effective social distancing, including asking patients to wait in their vehicles to limit the number of people in waiting rooms at any given time. Providers will continue seeing patients virtually using telehealth as an alternative to in-person visits.
“There is a delicate balance between having restrictions in place that limit the spread of the virus but also discourage patients with serious or chronic issues from seeking the care necessary to manage their condition,” said St. Peter’s Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Shelly Harkins. “Our focus is on positively impacting the overall health and wellness of everyone in our community, and we are taking all of these things into account as we transition operations into our new normal.”
National data shows that many people with serious, chronic medical conditions or even life-threatening issues have not sought care out of fear of being exposed to COVID-19 at a medical facility. St. Peter’s Health will maintain a high level of vigilance with respect to COVID-19 and keep the following measures in place for caregiver and patient safety:
- Drive-up testing tents (located behind the Medical Group building, 2550 Broadway St.)
- Urgent care patients with respiratory symptoms will continue to be directed to the urgent care location inside the Regional Medical Center
- Urgent care patients without respiratory symptoms will continue to be directed to the North Clinic Urgent Care
- The St. Peter’s Health COVID-19 Call Center will continue to be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 406-457-4180