MARSHFIELD – Marshfield Clinic Health System has begun performing non-urgent surgeries at its hospitals in Marshfield and Eau Claire and anticipates increasing the number of procedures at its hospitals in Rice Lake, Ladysmith, Beaver Dam and Neillsville, and the system’s outpatient surgery centers in Minocqua and Wausau over the next several weeks, the health system announced today.

“Six weeks ago, the Health System made the thoughtful decision to protect our patients, providers and staff to address the COVID-19 crisis by pausing non-urgent procedures that would not cause harm to our patients, and shift our care delivery focus from face-to-face patent contact to telehealth,” said Dr. Susan Turney, CEO Marshfield Clinic Health System, in a news release. “Now, and in carefully following CDC, CMS and state of Wisconsin guidelines and a review of local COVID-19 cases, we are executing a phased approach to perform additional procedures while concurrently continuing to plan for COVID-19.”

Careful consideration was given to how the health system balances increasing services with assuring patient safety, maintaining a safe work environment for providers and staff and preserving key resources of PPE, lab testing supplies and medications (in particular anesthesia) so it can remain in a position to provide COVID-19 care in event of a surge.

The first phase includes procedures that have a relatively minimal impact on the system’s supply of PPE and testing capacity, for example, procedures for cataracts, pain, GI, joints and others not requiring general anesthesia. Plans for subsequent phases are being formulated to operationalize in the near future.

“Currently in our service area there is not a high prevalence of COVID-19, and we are well positioned to provide safe care to our patients whose needs were deferred,” Turney said. “Our plan is to continue expanding services so patients can get the care they deserve, while maintaining the ability to dial back services efficiently and effectively if we experience an increase in COVID-19 patients.”

Multiple safeguards have been put in place to protect both staff and patients who work and enter health system facilities, including:

  • Registration and check-in by phone
  • Patient and employee screening at all designated entrances
  • Masking requirements for employees, patients and visitors, even for employees when not in patient-seeing areas of the facility
  • Social distancing measures in waiting rooms
  • Upon checking in, rooming patients in exam rooms as quickly as feasible
  • Testing patients coming in for certain procedures

Marshfield Clinic Health System staff is re-contacting patients who had procedures postponed to get their procedures rescheduled.

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