ASC Set to Help Local Hospital during COVID-19 Surge
Powder River Surgery Center works with Campbell County Memorial Hospital
BY SAHELY MUKERJI | JANUARY 2021
As access issues heighten during the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals in communities across the country are limiting nonurgent procedures. Consequently, ASCs, such as the Powder River Surgery Center in Gillette, Wyoming, are preparing to accommodate surgical patients from their hospital partners.
“Our hospital district is governed by an elected board of trustees with bylaws that allow for certain actions, one of which is to schedule emergency meetings to discuss allowing medical staff members credentialed at the hospital to become credentialed at a surgery center to perform certain procedures at that ASC,” says Linda Bedwell, RN, CASC, director of Powder River Surgery Center.
The ASC is affiliated with Campbell County Memorial Hospital (CCMH), part of Campbell Community Health (CCH), in Gillette. The hospital expanded its bed capacity to manage the COVID-19 patient surge and received help from the Army National Guard and CARES nurses, but still became overwhelmed.
“CCMH is licensed for 90 beds,” Bedwell says. “We had a meeting with them in the first week of December to discuss the procedures we could accommodate at the ASC. Currently, I am in the process of vetting and credentialing the physicians who want to operate in my facility. Next, I will need to look at my staff to make sure I have the adequate number of staff members. We also will need to make sure that the procedures that will move here are appropriate for surgery centers.”
Next up is training for the staff, she says. “We are doing that through the vendors who are supplying the equipment and also working with the hospital staff who are training our staff. We are very fortunate to have a great working relationship with the CCH.”
The hospital’s lab is testing for COVID-19 and the ASC must have the results before it can perform surgery on its patients. “We will not take positive patients,” Bedwell says. “We have been testing 100 percent of our patients since we came back from our shutdown in June. If testing becomes too overwhelming for the hospital, the Mayo Clinic picks up the testing.”
The ASC did not need to fill out any extra paperwork to accommodate surgery patients from the hospital, she says.
“We considered the potential need to extend our hours to pick up the patients and it is worth it for our community of 32,000 people,” she says.
Powder River Surgery Center is predominantly an orthopedic ASC but is a multispecialty center. “I have been working with reps from other service lines to perform general surgeries, especially urology, and I need to commend Olympus for reacting quickly to get the equipment that we needed,” Bedwell says. “We have 20 employees, two ORs and one procedure room and we average 100 cases a month, so we have plenty of room. We could do up to 250 cases a month.”
The ASC has not performed a procedure on a hospital patient yet. “The situation is very fluid, and I am on standby,” she says. “We are a small rural ASC and CCH is a small rural hospital, and we both feel an obligation to continue offering services to our community through these very challenging times.”