Covenant Health and other Knoxville-area hospitals will temporarily stop non-essential adult procedures starting Monday, March 23.
Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge is part of Covenant Health.
In Knoxville, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital will limit certain non-essential pediatric procedures.
“Ultimately, hospitals will rely on providers to use clinical judgement and standards of care in determining when to complete a procedure,” area hospitals said in a press release Friday.
Besides Covenant Health and East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, other hospital systems announcing the procedure changes were Tennova Healthcare and University of Tennessee Medical Center. The hospitals announced the changes in coordination with the Knox County Health Department.
The announcement was in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it used standards and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the press release said.
The press release defined non-essential procedures based on criteria from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: A delay in the procedure will not likely contribute to a significant progression of disease or harm to the patient—or symptom reduction measures are available to the patient during the delay.
Essential procedures are procedures considered necessary to treat a disease or injury, and/or to free up beds during a health care emergency. Postponing or delaying an essential procedure could result in an increased risk to a patient and/or delay necessary access to health care for other patients who are at risk, the hospitals said.
“Patients who have questions about whether their procedure or service is essential should contact their provider’s office directly,” the press release said.
It said all local hospitals are evaluating visitor restriction policies in conjunction with CDC guidelines and recommendations from the Tennessee Department of Health.
“The community should expect changes to these restrictions soon,” the press release said.