MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Blount Memorial Hospital is set to resume inpatient surgical procedures on Monday, May 11, in accordance with reopening criteria outlined by Gov. Bill Lee and the Tennessee Hospital Association.

Blount Memorial resumed elective surgeries and procedures on Friday, May 1, since postponing them amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and completed 203 total procedures in the first weekend alone.

All elective surgery patients receive a COVID-19 test prior to their procedures, as do patients who are coming to the hospital for other procedures such as colonoscopies or upper endoscopies.

Blount Memorial also began COVID-19 testing every inpatient admission to the hospital on Monday, May 4, with results available within hours to health care providers. The hospital said no presurgical patient has returned a positive COVID-19 result.

Surgeon Dr. Mahdi Budayr, right, performs a surgery at the Blount Memorial Outpatient Surgery Center, with support from physician assistant Caroline Sudhoff and the certified surgical technologist Kyna Graham. Photo courtesy of Blount Memorial.

“Proceeding with surgery is safe,” Blount Memorial general surgeon Dr. Stephen Pacifico said. “We are taking precautions every step of the way, and I feel our patients are as safe at the hospital as they are anywhere.

“It is likely that they have less chance of exposure at the hospital than they do anywhere else in the community. Patients may adversely affect the outcome of their disease process by delaying a case that can be safely performed.”

State guidelines give hospitals the authority to progress through the phased reopening at the community level.

“Every hospital is going to go through the phases differently, as the factors for moving forward are specific to each facility’s patients, supplies, resources and community trends,” Blount Memorial Chief Medical Officer Dr. Harold Naramore said. “We understand the fears that individuals have, but we also want them to know, we continue to take precautions to keep all of our patients safe.”