Safety First as OHOW is Now Expanding Elective Surgeries

After the past few months of following safer-at-home protocols due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we wanted to announce we’ve increased our already-robust safety protocols to ensure patients can safely return for elective surgeries. We’re now accepting appointments and working to reschedule elective procedures and therapies that were delayed due to COVID-19.

We also wanted to thank patients who have been kindly awaiting the opportunity to schedule or reschedule surgeries, physical therapy, and diagnostic appointments. At the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin, patient safety and well-being is our highest priority. It’s this award-winning dedication that makes us one of the top orthopedic hospitals in Wisconsin and the nation.

“At the end of the day, our success isn’t about awards or accolades; it’s about our patient satisfaction. At OHOW, we work hard to ensure the comfort and health of our patients is paramount,” shares Brian Cramer, CEO.

While we always go above and beyond to keep patients safe, during this time we’re taking additional precautions. As we reopen for elective procedures, we wanted to share our additional safety protocols for patient care.

Following Guidelines from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS)

At The Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin, we follow the recommendations and guidelines put forth by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), as well as the guidelines from the CDC and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS). We carefully monitor all updated information to ensure we’re always following the latest recommendations.

During COVID-19, safety protocols have rapidly changed as our knowledge of the virus evolves. It’s important to note that we may adjust our policies and procedures quickly to keep up with the latest information. Patients can rest assured that we are always monitoring information and best practices so we stay up to date.

Our staff is screened daily for signs of illness and asked to follow all recommended safety protocols in and outside of work. We’ve implemented a new scheduling algorithm to ensure we’re able to give extra attention to our patients while minimizing additional traffic as much as possible. And as always, our excellent nurse-to-patient ratios provide our patients with personalized care.

Additional Precautions to Keep You Safe During Visits

So what should patients expect when they visit the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin for a procedure?

Before surgical procedures, patients are tested for COVID-19 48 hours in advance and must test negative. OHOW is happy to announce that we now offer in-house COVID-19 testing for our surgical patients to streamline the process for our patient’s convenience. As of today, we have successfully tested over 200 patients prior to their surgery.

Further efforts have been made to limit the number of people that are in our hospital. Our visitor policy has been evolving to ensure safety at OHOW. There are situations that we allow visitors to enter our building, but these are screened, questioned and required to adhere to our safety protocols. If at all possible, we are requesting that companions drop off the patient and wait outside in their car or come back when the procedure is complete.

Upon their arrival, patients go through our screening process which includes a temperature check and standard illness related questions, they receive a mask, and are escorted directly to their care area without waiting in a common area. We have created many new roles at OHOW to ensure further safety of our patients. They help facilitate distancing and ensure patients safety. After the procedure, a nurse calls the patient’s designated companion to come inside to hear the doctor or nurse review the post-procedure guidelines.

For patients who are staying with us overnight, we’re allowing one visitor per patient during their stay and we are limiting visitation hours. Once a visitor has left for the day, we ask that they not return until the following day to help us limit and slow foot traffic.

While hygiene and infection prevention measures are always crucial for our organization, we’re taking extra measures above and beyond the regular requirements. For every patient, visitor, and vendor that comes into our hospital, our staff carries out advanced ILI (Influenza-like illness) screenings which include several health questions and a temperature check.

We’ve also increased our cleaning protocol for high-traffic areas like waiting rooms, offices, and elevators. Our cleaning staff disinfects all touchpoints (buttons, handles, doorknobs) frequently, using CDC-recommended medical-grade sanitizer. Hand-sanitizer dispensers are available throughout the hospital and items like pens are prepared for single use and then moved to a cup for sanitization before the next use.

In our cafeteria, we’ve replaced all reusable silverware with pre-packaged, disposable utensils. We’ve turned off coffee machines and water fountains for now, and we ask OHOW guests to pick up food “to-go” and enjoy their meal in the patient’s room rather than the dining area. Whenever possible, we work to minimize any surface contact that could spread illness.

Focusing on Clear Communication

We know that the COVID-19 outbreak has been a time of considerable uncertainty and stress for many people. We believe the best solution is clear communication and that’s why we are committed to providing our patients with the latest information whenever possible.

Our physical therapists and physicians have been offering visits and recommendations via online telemedicine when possible. As usual, we carry out pre-assessment calls over the phone before any procedure and we test all pre-op patients for COVID-19 prior to the surgery date. Results are given via phone along with preparation instructions for surgery.

We will continue to increase our capacity based on the trajectory of COVID-19 cases in Southeastern Wisconsin and by following the guidelines set forth by CMS, AAOS, and the CDC. Our patient’s safety, comfort and care is essential to us and we know that patient communication is critical during this uncertain time. We will continue to post information on our website and via our Facebook page, but we always encourage patients to contact us with any questions or concerns. We’re happy to discuss our safety protocols for physical therapy, diagnostic services, and elective surgery to help patients feel at ease before their visit.

At the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin, safety is our number one priority. We sincerely appreciate the flexibility and understanding of our patients over the last several weeks. It’s our commitment to you, to do everything possible to diligently keep you safe and healthy while under our care. We’re in this together, and we promise to continue our uncommon focus on you.