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CHCS resumes surgeries, other services May 4

Community HealthCare System is set to resume surgeries and wellness visits at its hospitals and clinics on May 4. Many restrictions and precautions will remain in place to protect patients and staff from COVID-19, but those who need care no longer need to wait. 

Like other healthcare facilities, Community HealthCare System, or CHCS, postponed non-emergency surgeries, yearly checkups, and other elective procedures when the statewide stay-at-home order was issued and the COVID-19 threat loomed large. Although COVID-19 spread remains a possibility, our area has seen relatively few cases and has experienced minimal community spread. 

“Our medical staff has deemed it safe to reopen procedures with screening and guidelines in place to protect patients and associates,” said Todd Willert, CHCS CEO. 

CHCS is following guidelines from the American College of Surgeons, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. These include screening of patients, maintaining social distancing in waiting areas, offering cloth masks to all who enter CHCS facilities, maintaining extra cleaning and sanitizing procedures adopted for the last few weeks, remaining closed to visitors except under certain circumstances, and ensuring that staff wear appropriate personal protective equipment, or PPE. (UPDATE: The visitor policy changed June 1 to allow one visitor at a time in hospitals and one support person during clinic visits. Find more information.) 

Senior care facilities, including Redbud Plaza Assisted Living in Onaga, Eastridge Skilled Nursing Facility in Centralia, and St. Marys Manor in St. Marys, will remain closed to visitors. Fitness Centers will also remain closed. 

According to Willert, reopening requires careful planning and a phased approach. 

“We will be closely monitoring our supplies of PPE and working to ensure that we are keeping everyone safe. We will also remain vigilant, because COVID-19 will be with us for a long time, and we know it can start to spread again in the coming months until a vaccine is available,” Willert said. 

Surgery staff will prioritize scheduling procedures for patients with symptoms or high risk factors. Clinics will maintain separate areas for patients who are suspected to have COVID-19 and those who are not, and they will offer wellness visits and visits for sick patients at different times of day. 

“We have precautions in place at all clinics to maintain physical distance and to sanitize surfaces between visits. Our clinics all have designated times and spaces for sick vs. well patients,” said Melissa Talley, CHCS chief practice management officer. 

“Patients can call their individual clinic to make appointments and ask questions about new procedures. Our staff is eager to help,” Talley said. 

Contact Community HealthCare System at 785-889-4272 or or follow us on Facebook at Community HealthCare System or on Twitter at @chcsks. 


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