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Sinai starts slow rollout of elective procedures

Sinai starts slow rollout of elective procedures

While Illinois hospitals are starting to re-open their doors to elective procedures, Sinai Health System CEO Karen Teitelbaum said Wednesday it will be a “very long time” before things go back to the way they were pre-COVID-19 pandemic.

Teitelbaum said during a Health News Illinois webinar that the four-hospital system has begun to restart some services. She said it will be a slow rollout, with an initial focus on patients with more urgent needs.

They are also taking precautionary steps, such as testing patients ahead of their procedures, doing more cleaning and disinfecting at each site and doing temperature checks on caregivers.

“I think that we’re not going to see what was our normal for a very, very long time,” Teitelbaum said. “I think that’s true of hospitals and, I think, just virtually everything else in our lives.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health said elective surgeries and other procedures could restart this week if hospitals and outpatient surgery centers meet certain guidelines. The procedures were stopped at nearly all hospitals at the start of the pandemic.

Teitelbaum estimated her system has lost about $10 million a month during the pandemic. Along with the loss of revenue from not being able to perform elective surgeries, she said costs have increased from treating COVID-19 patients.

Illinois Health and Hospital Association CEO A.J. Wilhelmi previously told Health News Illinois that Illinois hospitals and health systems were losing $1.4 billion a month in revenue from responding to the coronavirus crisis, in part because of the cancellation of such procedures.

Having such services available can be vitally important in communities served by safety nets like Sinai, Teitelbaum said. Their facilities see a “tremendous burden of comorbidity” among its patients, which she said becomes a pressing issue as the vast majority of those who have died from COVID-19 have underlying conditions.

“So our communities do tend to be more in need of care, I think than you might find in other select communities,” Teitelbaum said.


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