Michigan Medicine opens up for more non-COVID-19 patients

Thursday, May 14, 2020 - 3:32pm

Michigan Medicine announced increased surgery volumes for non-COVID-19 cases.

Michigan Medicine announced increased surgery volumes for non-COVID-19 cases. Buy this photo
Allison Engkvist/Daily

Thursday morning, Michigan Medicine announced it will begin increasing surgery volumes for time-sensitive cases while remaining in line with the state’s temporary restrictions on procedures. As the number of COVID-19 patients decline, Michigan Medicine will gradually resume care and encourage patients to seek health care, especially if delay can worsen conditions.

The hospital began treating its first COVID-19 patient in March after weeks of preparation. As a result, Michigan Medicine began rescheduling non-emergency medical procedures to a later date in order to allocate resources for more COVID-19 patients admitted to the hospital. 

As the COVID-19 patient counts decrease, Chief Medical Officer Jeff Desmond said in the press release Michigan Medicine is concerned people may be delaying appropriate care and getting sicker if left untreated. He acknowledged the concerns many people have with potential exposure to COVID-19 but emphasized the greater need to treat patients with critical and time-sensitive diseases.

“We’re in the active planning stages of expanding the surgeries and procedures we can provide to those patients who are at greatest risk for the progression of their disease,” Desmond said. “Throughout this pandemic, safety has been a top priority and we have taken many steps to minimize the spread of disease.”

Michigan Medicine plans to increase precautionary measures to lessen the exposure to COVID-19, according to the press release. These precautions include providing masks to all patients, visitors and employees, screening patients for symptoms and promoting social distancing with furniture rearrangements. Michigan Medicine also plans to continue effective cleaning and disinfection while following additional guidelines for minimal spread of disease.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan Medicine continued urgent and essential care like cancer treatment or transplant surgeries and procedures. However, they will now begin expanding access to additional procedures that were previously canceled.

The press release noted patients can schedule appointments with Michigan Medicine primary care and specialty care providers as video visits. 

“We’ve dramatically expanded our Video Visit availability across all of our clinics,” Desmond said. “Patients can count on a comprehensive experience with their provider - everything their in-person appointment would normally involve including plenty of time for their provider to understand their needs and answer any questions they have.”

While patient numbers have declined in the health system’s emergency departments, some physicians worry people may be avoiding proper care, according to the press release. Mark Prince, chair of the Department of Otolaryngology, noted patients should not ignore symptoms and should seek help immediately.  

“You don’t have to make these decisions alone. Whether you are experiencing symptoms that concern you, or have questions about rescheduling a procedure that was cancelled, do not hesitate to contact your care provider,” Prince said. “They will help you determine next steps that are right for you.”

Summer News Editor Kristina Zheng can be reached at krizheng@umich.edu.