Bryan, ankle replacement

In this file photo from 2014, Dr. Joshua Vest of Capital Foot and Ankle performs an ankle replacement procedure at Bryan East Campus.

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Bryan Health has been gradually ramping up how many elective surgeries it's been taking on since resuming procedures on May 4.

The hospital began with outpatient and short-stay procedures in order to keep beds and staffing free to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Kate Rosenberger said Friday.

With enough personal protective equipment on hand, and due to the success of social distancing efforts in Lincoln, Rosenberger said Bryan plans to resume fully elective procedures beginning in June.

Rosenberger, an ear, nose and throat specialist, has worked with surgeons from different specialties and Bryan administrators on new guidelines based on those set by the American College of Surgeons and Gov. Pete Ricketts for resuming surgeries in the coming weeks.

Bryan will continue to screen patients before they come into the hospital for symptoms, potential exposure and recent travel, Rosenberger said. 

The hospital is also requiring all patients and employees to wear masks, which Rosenberger called a effective way at decreasing transmission of COVID-19.

Doctors wear N95 masks and face shields, or personal respiratory devices — the spacesuit-resembling equipment — during surgeries.

"Talking to my colleagues around the country, this is not always the case," Rosenberger said about the availability of the devices. "We are really fortunate to have access to those. That really keeps patients and staff safe in those high-risk procedures."

Finally, any patient receiving an elective procedure will first get a coronavirus test and be asked to self-isolate from the time of testing to when they arrive at the hospital for their operation.

Rosenberger said the tests help the hospital identify asymptomatic carriers of the disease. Anyone who tests positive won't be operated on.

Although the number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to rise — 1,102 of the 8,208 people tested by Bryan have come back positive, a 13.5% positive rate, with 394 tests pending — other health issues requiring surgeries continue to exist, she said.

"Overall, the vast majority of patients who are hospitalized right now are not for COVID, they are for other medical reasons," Rosenberger said.

As of Friday, there were 439 people hospitalized at Bryan campuses. Only 28 of those were coronavirus-related, including 10 in intensive care units.

"I think it's really important for people to remember there are medical issues out there that need to be treated in a time-sensitive fashion, that need to be addressed and could potentially get worse if we don't operate," Rosenberger said.

"We need to be able to do these surgeries safely and proceed in a manner that is safe for patients and surgeons and staff."

Latest updates on coronavirus in Lincoln and nearby

See the latest news as more coronavirus cases are identified in Nebraska.

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She wants people to realize how serious the disease is: "I don't want anyone to go through what my family did or experience the heartache that other families have."

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Gov. Pete Ricketts said Thursday that the state has begun to "plan for kids to come back to school in the fall" and launched conversations on when it would be safe to move ahead with the resumption of youth sports.

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Among the changes the company is instituting are providing face coverings and requiring employees to wear them, making time clocks touchless and monitoring employees for fever.

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The Elton John concert scheduled for Pinnacle Bank Arena on June 9 has been postponed and is being rescheduled for 2021, although no new date has been set.

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At least one Nebraska health department says it will no longer report COVID-19 case numbers linked to specific meatpacking plants after Gov. Pete Ricketts raised health privacy concerns.

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The plan to open classrooms acknowledges the possibility that class sizes may need to be reduced or adjustments may be required to class schedules in order to accommodate social distancing recommendations.

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More than 3,000 high school seniors in Lincoln are graduating into a world nobody’s navigated before, staring into a pandemic that has closed schools, slashed families’ economic security and, for many graduates, changed their college plans.

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Five Lincoln public pools — Arnold Heights, Ballard, Belmont, Irvingdale and Woods — will open to the public in a limited capacity on June 15.

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Medical professionals acknowledge the pressure from both sides about reopening, and the effects of economic turmoil. But health effects of the disease and deaths are equally important, they say.

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Catholic churches will not be holding Mass on Sunday and most of the city’s Protestant churches will not be reopening, even though they are allowed to do so under statewide rules.

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While facing technological, social and financial challenges, the percentage of students who did at least some coursework ranged from 44% at North Star to 90% at Southwest, and most schools had less than 60% of students engaging, according to rough estimates.

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By the close of business Tuesday, Nebraska is scheduled to have in hand an additional 30,000 coronavirus test kits and four machines capable of processing them as part of the Test Nebraska initiative.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7120 or cdunker@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @ChrisDunkerLJS

This article originally ran on journalstar.com.

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