'I'm cautiously optimistic': Sentara gears up for winter storm, plan to start elective surgeries next week

Posted at 11:38 AM, Jan 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-21 11:09:58-05

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Sentara Healthcare is gearing up for what may be one of the most severe winter storms Hampton Roads has seen in years.

Health officials say their plan is to have everything they need inside of the building before the winter weather hits.

Sentara health officials met Wednesday with their Materials Management Team to ensure they were fully stocked to handle both COVID patients and emergency visits that might occur during the storm.

Dr. Joel Bundy, Sentara Healthcare’s Chief Quality & Safety Officer, says over the past several days, Sentara has been working with pharmacists to ensure they have enough medications and fluids inside the hospital.

They have also worked to treat sidewalks and driveways, preordered operation room supplies from vendors, and organized for physicians to sleep overnight in the hospitals.

Dr. Bundy plans on physicians sleeping in the hospitals for about one or two days, or until the snow clears.

"We'll have staff and physicians sleeping overnight in the hospital," he explained. "We are prepared so that we have everything we need in the hospital and not depending on people to actually get there during the weather. So I think we'll be prepared as we have been for many years."

This preparedness comes as Sentara is seeing a decrease in COVID hospitalizations and have plans in place to ensure there is enough staff ahead of the winter storm.

"I am cautiously optimistic," said Dr. Bundy. "The numbers are encouraging. In the Hampton Roads area, cases are down. In Virginia Beach, the number of cases are down by 5% and in Norfolk by 6%.

Dr. Bundy added that COVID hospitalizations in Virginia Beach are down this week by 19%, and almost 30% in Norfolk.

This allows Sentara Healthcare to plan to reopen elective surgery appointments starting next week.

They plan to reopen about half of their elective surgeries starting next week, but a national blood shortage prevents them from offering these surgeries at full capacity.

"We are cautiously going to start back elect surgeries next week, not at full force, but we will do about half of our outpatient elective surgeries," explained Dr. Bundy. "Even though we may have the staff, we may not have the blood to do all kinds of surgeries. We have to think through that... because of the Omicron surge, we did not get many blood donors, and we are facing significant shortages."

A representative from NowCare Urgent Centers says they will also be fully open and are monitoring the weather closely.

Patient First Urgent Care also commented on the incoming weather to News 3 saying, "During inclement weather, we strive to remain open and accessible during our current hours of operation of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Under extreme weather conditions, or if there is a power outage, we may need to close centers on an individual basis. Should any centers close, we will update our website with closure announcements."

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