Hospitals may resume elective surgeries on May 4 if they meet specific bed count and personal protective equipment requirements. Surgeries for non-life-threatening situations are currently prohibited under state health mandates.

Following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State of Nebraska, Memorial Health Care Systems in Seward meets the guidelines to resume elective surgeries, which were previously prohibited under statewide Directed Health Measures to help protect the supply of personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Pete Ricketts announced last week that hospitals in Nebraska can resume elective surgeries beginning May 4 if they meet three criteria:

• 30% of hospital and intensive care unit beds must be available;

• 30% of the hospital's ventilators must be available; and

• the hospital must have two weeks' worth of personal protective equipment (gloves, masks, gowns, etc.) available on site.

"MHCS leadership and Surgery Committee physicians have studied the guidelines, recommendations and our PPE availability and are confident that we can resume elective surgeries while having all necessary precautions and personal protective equipment available to keep patients, staff and physicians/surgeons safe and well cared for," MHCS said in a statement April 28.

Elective surgeries were suspended to prioritize the use of personal protective equipment, staffing, ventilators and other equipment for COVID-19 inpatient care.

Roger Reamer, CEO of Memorial Health Care Systems, said hospital staff is working with doctors to determine at what level of operation procedures at Memorial Hospital will start. Reamer said the hospital is looking to resume operations below capacity to start.

Doctors will help Memorial Hospital prioritize which patients need to come in first and are most in need of elective procedures.

“One concern we have with continuing to suspend elective procedures is that necessary preventive and diagnostic care is being delayed," said James Plasek, MD. "That care can only be delayed so long before patients suffer a preventable adverse outcome. We are well-prepared to care for surgical patients here. We have the necessary PPE to protect our patients, as well as our staff and physicians during surgical procedures.”

Hospital officials have been working on projections of the needed PPE and other supplies once the surgical procedures resume.

“While PPE and availability of supplies factor into the decision to reopen, the most important decision is when it is safe for patients, staff and physicians,” Reamer said.

Treating COVID-19 patients

Memorial Hospital has not had a COVID-19 positive inpatient to date. All positive COVID-19 patients under its care are managing themselves at home and are being monitored by their family physician and Four Corners Health Department.

As of April 27, 22 states announced plans to resume elective surgeries, including Indiana, Colorado, Utah, Texas, Ohio, California, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Iowa, New York, West Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Arizona, Oregon, Virginia, Illinois, Alaska, Nebraska, Vermont, Washington and South Dakota. (Source:

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