Missoula’s Community Medical Center announced on Saturday that they will begin the process of safely resuming some elective and non-urgent surgeries and procedures.

Medical Staff President Dr. Michael Stewart explained that to prepare for what they expected might have been a surge of COVID patients that they ceased providing elective and non-urgent procedures to save the necessary Personal Protective Equipment and the possible danger to other patients and to their staff.

“Now, it’s really important that we get these things going, as people with chronic illnesses and all kinds of other things that have been put off, and we don’t want to have people’s other health issues start to become sacrificed due to this,” said. Dr. Stewart. “We’ve tried to figure out a gradual reopening for our clinics, our surgeries and for our procedures. We’ll also continue to do all the things that we’ve been doing to keep everything really safe, with social distancing, lots of hand washing and every person with gloves and a face mask.”

Stewart said the resumption of regular services will be done slowly and in specific increments.

“To begin this we’re going to be very cautious,” he said. “Before any surgery we’re going to going to have people tested, they’ll be put in a seven day stay-at-home time where we will be monitoring their temperatures twice a day. Any patient that has complex medical problems or will require any kind of long-term hospitalization we are not going to do at this point unless it’s an emergency. Of course, we’re always open for emergencies. The emergency room is a very safe place and we have plenty of equipment at this point, which was a major concern at the start of the COVID pandemic, but with social distancing and self-monitoring, we’ve been able to preserve and even gain equipment.”

Stewart said the time has come to resume more normal services at Community Medical Center.

“I think it’s time to get this going,” he said. “We’ve got people who need to get in and get their medical needs taken care of, and obviously we’d like to see our employees get some work, as well. However, we have to be able to rotate and turn if we see any indicators of concern, and that’s the nice thing. We have three phases we’ll be utilizing. The first is the most safe and hopefully, that will go well, and if it does then we can move on to Phase Two, but if it doesn’t we’ll be able to pivot and move quite quickly and move things around.”

A press release from CMC states that ‘patients awaiting information about their previously postponed procedure can expect to hear from their provider or provider’s office to discuss rescheduling at the appropriate time, and the hospital will continue to maintain their zero visitor protocol for the foreseeable future.’