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Hospitals revise policies in light of virus spread

Monroe County’s two major health systems, University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and Rochester Regional Health (RRH), have taken steps to prepare for the expected rise of COVID-19.

URMC announced that physician offices as well as surgery centers will directly contact patients to reschedule appointments and surgeries or offer alternatives like a telephone consult or video telemedicine for people who do not need to be seen in person.

According to Michael Apostolakos M.D., chief medical officer for URMC, these changes will help to ensure the community’s largest health system has the staff and resources it needs to care for all patients as more individuals test positive for COVID-19.

Apostolakos added that URMC intends to keep all physician, clinics and outpatient surgery centers open. Reducing patient volumes, however, allows the system to conserve resources for patients with the most critical and urgent needs.

These changes at URMC are in effect now, and will be re-evaluated on March 29.

As of Monday afternoon, URMC and RRH hospitals have agreed to not allow any in-person visits until further notice. There are exceptions for pediatric patients and patients in labor, who are allowed one visitor. Patients of outpatient visits can have one support person when required.

“We understand the desire to be with loved ones and the therapeutic benefits visitors contribute towards healing,” said Kelly Luther, director of social work for Strong Memorial Hospital. “We will continue providing patients with compassionate, patient-centered care, and we are exploring technology and other methods to assist patients in staying connected with their families as much as possible.”

Like URMC, RRH has begun rescheduling elective surgeries at all RRH facilities through March 29. The time frame is subject to change as new developments occur in regard to COVID-19.

“Our decision, made in lockstep with our physician leaders across the health system, was guided by the recommendations of the American College of Surgeons and the United States Surgeon General,” said Robert Mayo M.D., chief medical officer for RRH. “This is one of many safeguards Rochester Regional Health is implementing in our ongoing effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community and to protect the health and safety of our team members and our patients.”

nsheldon@bridgetowermedia.com / (585) 363-7031

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