Mission Health to resume elective services within 10 days

Mission Hospital campus
HEROIC EFFORTS: Six staff members at Mission Hospital in Asheville have tested positive for COVID-19. As of May 27, no additional cases related to the staff cases were identified. Photo by Cindy Kunst

As local and state officials wrestle with how to roll back business restrictions designed to curb COVID-19, Mission Health is planning to bring its own operations a step closer to the pre-pandemic normal. In an April 27 press release, the health system announced plans to “begin phasing back in certain services and procedures that were temporarily suspended due to COVID-19” within the next 10 days.

Cancer therapies, joint replacements and other elective procedures that had been postponed due to the initial COVID-19 response will be the first to return. Dr. William Hathaway, Mission’s chief medical officer, said the system would take “a phased approach” to reinstituting other services, in line with the strategy for economic reopening proposed by Gov. Roy Cooper.

The release quoted Brownie Newman, chair of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, as supportive of Mission’s decision. “Thanks to the good work of residents adhering to our Stay Home, Stay Safe policy, the risk of exceeding the capacity at Mission Hospital to care for all patients is now low,” Newman said. “County health officials are comfortable with Mission performing important medical procedures that had been placed on hold.”

Since North Carolina’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced on March 3, the Mission system has treated just over 20 inpatients for the disease, according to the release. As of the afternoon of April 27, 54 confirmed COVID-19 cases had been reported in Buncombe County, resulting in 3 deaths.

Hiring begins to double state contact tracing capacity

The second of the three pillars supporting Cooper’s COVID-19 strategy — testing, tracing and trends — will be substantially strengthened over the coming month. Dr. Mandy Cohen, North Carolina’s secretary of health and human services, announced a new collaborative to double the state’s contract tracing workforce from 250 to 500 by the end of May at an April 27 press conference.

Beginning immediately, Cohen said, Community Care of North Carolina and the state’s area health education centers would hire new employees to follow up with COVID-19 patients and determine other people with whom they had been in close contact. While roughly 70% of local health departments said they already had adequate tracing capacity, Cohen noted, additional support is needed in areas with higher case volumes.

Those interested working for the Carolina Community Tracing Collaborative can apply online. Cohen said preference would be given to applicants who are currently unemployed, have previous community engagement experience and are living in the areas they will serve.

In other news

  • At an April 27 webinar hosted by the N.C. Chamber, state Sen. Chuck Edwards, R-Henderson, criticized Cooper’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis, calling the Democratic governor’s stay-at-home order “an overreaction.” Edwards also said that Cooper’s three-phase plan to reopen the state failed to offer any certainty for businesses that have been hard hit by the restrictions.
  • Asheville City Council will hold a special meeting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 28, to consider a resolution that would give City Manager Debra Campbell the authority to apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency funding. As outlined in a staff report available before the meeting, the move would allow “potential recovery of costs associated with the COVID-19 declared disaster.”
  • Visit Black Mountain launched a “Black Mountain Strong” T-shirt fundraiser to help local businesses impacted by COVID-19. Half of each $20 purchase is allocated to a locally owned Black Mountain business such as Seven Sisters Gallery or Town Hardware.
  • The YMCA of Western North Carolina has partnered with Wicked Weed Brewing, Cultura restaurant and other local food businesses to expand its free meal delivery program. Starting this week, the YMCA and Food Connection will deliver 5,000 meals to those in need throughout the Asheville area.
SHARE

Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Daniel Walton
Daniel Walton is the Green Scene editor and a reporter for Mountain Xpress. His work has previously appeared in Capital at Play, Edible Asheville, and the Citizen-Times, among other area publications. Follow me @DanielWWalton

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.