Bassett Network's Resumption and Expansion of Services Trending Well

Bassett Healthcare Network announced on May 12 that the network was implementing a plan to restore the full range of health care services previously curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The acute-crisis phase of the pandemic appears to be over, though COVID-19 will remain with our region for some time," said Network President and CEO William F. Streck, MD, during the news conference.  "We are now entering a new phase, one that is informed by our success over the past couple of months responding to COVID-19. We are cautiously, but confidently, implementing plans to safely expand services across the Bassett network."

Two weeks following that announcement, the expansion of services is well underway and progressing even better than anticipated according to Chief Clinical Officer Steven Heneghan, MD.

"We are on a trajectory from May 15, when we began to resume some services and expand others, to get all services up to baseline numbers in eight weeks. In fact, we are ahead of projections in several areas, and we anticipate achieving the goals we established in our ramp-up plan by July," says Heneghan.

At the peak of the pandemic, Bassett greatly expanded its use of telehealth visits to see patients. Between April 24 and May 18, the network handled over 35,000 patient visits and a significant percentage of those were video visits. Now, as patients are seeking to get back in for care they put off over the past couple of months, daily in-person visits have climbed above 2,000; telehealth visits number several hundred a day.

"On average, our practitioner group saw around 2,900 patients per day last year," notes Heneghan. "Our low point during the pandemic was 800 and now, we are getting 2,600 patients in each day through a combination of in-person and telehealth visits. So, we do expect to get back up to our pre-pandemic daily patient visits by July.

"The main thing now is to continue our systematic, careful approach to expanding services and getting people in for the care they need. We must continue to do it safely, with the right people and equipment."

Antibody testing results among employees suggest that the safety precautions put in place as a result of the pandemic have worked. Several hundred employees considered at highest risk of exposure (e.g. intensive care unit, screening tents) have tested negative for the coronavirus antibody, meaning they have not been exposed.

The region Bassett serves is still vulnerable, however, particularly in the fall and winter months, a time when respiratory illnesses like influenza typically peak.

Sustaining the success to date will require continuing adherence to the proper use of personal protective equipment, frequent handwashing, social distancing and similar measures.