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Path Set For Central, South Coast Hospitals To Resume Operations Suspended Due To Coronavirus


The governor has opened a small door towards normalcy: Setting the stage for hospitals and other medical facilities to resume non-critical surgeries. But, it’s not something which will happen overnight.  Dr. Scott Robertson is Chief Medical Officer for Dignity Health, which operates three hospitals on the Central Coast, and two on the South Coast. He says counties have to also clear the way for procedures to resume, and it will take facilities time to ramp up staffing.

Dignity Health operates French Hospital in San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande Community Hospital in Arroyo Grande, Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria. On the South Coast, it operates St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard and St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital in Camarillo.

Dr. Robertson says hospitals never stopped performing critical surgeries. It was scheduled ones which were suspended, so staff, supplies and space could be reallocated in case there was a surge in coronavirus patients.  Early in the crisis, the media pushed the message that people needed to avoid taking up hospital space as much as possible.

But, even for non-critical care, Dr. Robertson says medical consultation has always been available.  Medical offices are considered essential, but in many cases visits have been taking place remotely. Since we haven’t had a big surge of coronavirus cases filling emergency rooms, some in the region have actually not been as busy as they were before the crisis.

The Dignity Health official worries that some people who actually need care have been afraid to get it. He thinks some people have been afraid to go to hospitals because they are worried about getting coronavirus.

Dr. Robertson says the situation has led to one good thing: He says providers and patients have figure out new ways to connect, using telemedicine.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral. 
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