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Elective surgeries to resume at St. Luke's this week

Starting Wednesday, St, Luke's plans to start with about 50 procedures a day for the next few weeks, then decide the next steps.

BOISE, Idaho — Elective surgeries have seen a resurgence in area hospitals over the last few weeks after being put on pause because of the pandemic.

At the beginning of the month, Saint Alphonsus began phasing them back in as Idaho moved into stage one of reopening.

St. Luke's held off bringing back patients for elective surgery until Wednesday.

Before the pandemic, St. Luke's was performing up to 70 non-emergency procedures a day at its downtown Boise hospital.

Over the last eight weeks, about 2,000 elective surgeries were postponed or canceled altogether, with nearly 5,000 radiology procedures pushed aside.

Starting Wednesday, St, Luke's says they'll start with about 50 procedures a day for the next few weeks, then decide the next steps.

But before patients can be whisked off to surgery, they'll be tested for COVID-19, symptoms, or no symptoms.

"We want to make sure patients who may be asymptomatic for COVID-19, but still have that disease, we don't want them to be getting surgery if it's going to be placing them at increased risk so we want to identify additional risks for our patients," said St. Luke's Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. Frank Johnson. "We also want to make sure our staff stays safe and we're not bringing someone in that has that disease who may be asymptomatic so that testing process." 

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Patients will be asked to come in one or two days before their procedure to get tested for COVID-19.

With in-house testing, patients will only have to wait about 24-hours before test results are back.

For the safety of everyone, Dr. Johnson says their waiting rooms have been spaced out to allow for better social distancing, the number of visitors allowed inside will be limited, and yes, masks are required.

Staff manning the COVID-19 pop-up testing tents in the parking lots will return to their normal responsibilities, many of which are connected to the non-elective surgeries.

Those pop-up tents will close Friday, May 22, as the demand for coronavirus testing has dropped.

St. Luke's will still be performing COVID-19 tests at select St. Luke's Clinics.

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