Mon Health CEO explains the merits of suspending all ‘non-essential’ treatments amid coronavirus outbreak

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Mon Health has announced that they will be suspending all non-essential treatment and care at all their hospitals: Mon Health Medical Center, Preston Memorial, Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital and Mon Health Medical Center – Grafton.

Non-essential care is defined as not being time-sensitive for medical reasons, according to a Mon Health news release. A Mon Health System clinical leadership committee has developed a list of conditions and treatments that meet criteria to be considered essential, the release said.

David Goldberg, the president and chief executive officer of Mon Health, said they are following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“The CDC and the federal government recommended to hospitals to limit or reduce certain elective procedures or elective treatments for the foreseeable future,” Goldberg said. “Really to make sure that the hospitals have the resources that they need: the gowns, the masks, the different medicines and supplies they would need if we have a mass outbreak and would need to use the hospitals for very sick people.”

Goldberg said this does not mean that they are shutting down their hospitals. On the contrary, he said patients will still be able to receive emergency or urgent care and various exams and screenings they need.

It will be up to the discretion of doctors and healthcare professionals at Mon Health to determine if treatment is needed immediately or if it is nonessential.

“We have not totally closed down our radiology departments,” Goldberg said. “Our lab departments, our operating rooms, we have just really reduced the cases that we’re doing right now to conserve supplies, make sure we’re ready and available always for really sick, acute situations for our patients and to make sure we always follow the directions of our doctors taking care of their patients.”

One method of treatment that Goldberg said they are looking to expand on during this time is telehealth. Telehealth refers to providing patients with health-related information and services via technology, whether that is over the phone or through a tablet device, etc.

Mon Health currently has telehealth services for neurology and stroke care as part of a contract and collaboration with WVU Medicine Goldberg said. Doctors, nurse practitioners, physician aids and others work remotely to help make sure the patient is well taken care of.

“We’re exploring scaling up the access for telehealth,” Goldberg said. “Right now some of our doctors are continuing to take care of their patients by telephone, answering their questions, reviewing their signs or symptoms.”

Goldberg said more telehealth is on the way especially because it’s hard to tell how long the COVID-19 outbreak will last. He said they are prepared for the next few weeks or the next few months, however long is necessary.

Right now, Mon Health has set up what Goldberg calls ‘our remote lab’ in Morgantown so if people think they have signs or symptoms they can call the available number for the lab.

The phone number is 304-285-3798.

It is the number for the Mon Health Patient Outreach Line. Patients must call it and then qualify for testing before they can have access to the remote lab. The lab will be located in the SurgiCare South area of the MHMC campus starting on Friday, March 20 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. according to the release.

“We’ll register them, they’ll be able to drive through our campus at Mon Health Medical Center, be able to be swabbed right here on-site, collect the sample, get it to the lab and return the results very timely to the patients,” Goldberg said. “It’ll help us do it faster. We’re standing it up at Stonewall Jackson hospital location as well as Preston Memorial in the next few days but we’re up and we start tomorrow.”

On Friday, March 20, at noon, Goldberg said there will be a Facebook Live event to tell the public what Mon Health can do for them. They will share critical facts in order to keep the community educated and calm.

The event will have two Mon Health doctors, one will be their emergency room medical director and the other will be an infectious disease doctor.

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