Signs on Saturday, March 28, 2020, at the main entrance to South Peninsula Hospital in Homer, Alaska, warn visitors not to enter until they have been met by hospital staff. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Signs on Saturday, March 28, 2020, at the main entrance to South Peninsula Hospital in Homer, Alaska, warn visitors not to enter until they have been met by hospital staff. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

South Peninsula Hospital restarts most of it services

Precautions and COVID-19 screening are in place

With much of Alaska’s economy opening back up under Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s phased plan, the local hospital is following suit and offering most of its regular services again.

South Peninsula Hospital, which has identified six positive cases of COVID-19 out of more than 900 tests performed there, is now offering regular services including surgery, family care health visits, physical screenings and check ups, cardiology and behavioral health services, imaging, physical rehabilitation and more. All of this comes with a few changes and precautions, though, according to Public Information Officer Derotha Ferraro.

In an email to the Homer News, she outlined the services that are being offered again as well as the requirements being instituted by the hospital for accessing them.

“All services and providers are taking special precautions, conducting increased sanitation measures, utilizing PPE, have rearranged waiting rooms and exam areas, and are screening patients on the phone in advance and upon arrival,” Ferraro wrote.

Some services require patients to be tested for COVID-19 first, while some services require that patient attest that they and their family members have not been sick with the disease or have traveled outside the state in the last 14 days. Other services do not have these requirements at all.

“For example, being seen in the ER is unrestricted,” Ferraro wrote. “But an appointment at the therapy department requires attestation that they or a close contact are not sick with confirmed COVID-19, they or a close contact have not traveled outside of Alaska in last 14 days, and they do not have any type of covid-like symptoms or sudden onset of an unexplained new symptom.”

Telehealth appointments are an option for high-risk patients, Ferraro said, or anyone who would prefer that option for their care. All patients are required to wear a mask or other approved face covering depending on the department, she wrote.

A COVID-19 test is required for the following care:

· All surgical services

· Pulmonary function tests

· Stress tests

· Induction of labor

· Sleep studies (when they resume)

For these services, a patient must get a negative test result within 48 hours of that service, or as close as possible, Ferraro wrote. All patients who get hospitalized are being tested for COVID-19 at the time they are admitted to the hospital, she said.

In the following areas, patients may have one essential visitor accompany them:

· Emergency Department

· Birthing Center

· Hospitalized area

· Surgery

For all other areas, the hospital will approve visitors based on special circumstances, Ferraro wrote.

“No visitors are allowed for a patient under investigation for or with confirmed COVID-19,” she wrote.

Visitors must attest that they have not been sick with the disease, have traveled Outside, or been in close contact with someone who has, and they have to stay in the areas designated for visitors.

Below is a more detailed list of the services being offered in each department at South Peninsula Hospital:

Surgery — All surgical procedures are now being offered. All procedures, either surgical or endoscope, require COVID-19 testing no more than 48 hours before the scheduled procedure, as well as screening. If the surgical procedure is an emergency, the hospital can use its rapid testing machine.

Clinics

Homer Medical Center & West Wing — Fully operational for all types of appointments and procedures (wellness, vaccinations, sports physicals, well woman visits, ob/gyn visits, prenatal, post-partum). These services are being offered in person, via telehealth and via phone consult. Note: stress tests have been relocated to the hospital campus.

Family Care Clinic – telehealth and in-person visits.

Functional Medicine – telehealth only.

Infusion Clinic – Currently in the behavioral health building. The clinic is offering all types of IV infusions and regular services. Note: Dr. Mullins is doing oncology visits via telehealth only.

Cardiology – telehealth only.

Behavioral Health – telehealth only.

Rehabilitation – Fully operational with both in person and telehealth visits. Note: Medicare is not covering telehealth for rehab. Pediatric therapy visits are offered on a case by case basis.

Orthopedic Clinic – Fully operational with in-person and telehealth visits.

General Surgery Clinic – Fully operational with telehealth and in-person visits.

Specialty Clinic – Fully operational with in-person and telehealth visits. This includes urology, ENT, pulmonology, diabetes/lipids.

Home Health Services: All normal services are provided in the home. This includes services by nurses, physical therapists, orthopedic therapists, and aids. They are accepting new clients, but enrollment can be done via telehealth. Call your provider if you are in need of skilled services in the home.

Imaging Services: All services and screenings are offered.

Laboratory: All services are offered.

Birthing Center: All normal services and procedures are offered.

Not yet open: Sleep studies

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