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news News Thursday, September 10, 2020 Thursday, September 10, 2020 2:01 PM - Thursday, September 10, 2020 2:01 PM

Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville announces safe return to full scope of patient services

Achieving final phase on schedule

Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville announces safe return to full scope of patient services

Pressing forward with a highly-successful reopening strategy that has benefited hundreds of patients in a six-state service region, Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville announced that it has successfully transitioned to Phase 3 in a measured approach to reintroduce all levels of its award-winning pediatric orthopaedic care.

“Since we first postponed elective surgeries in mid-March, we have been working toward reaching this stage – ramping back up to providing 100% of the multidisciplinary care for which we are renowned,” said Bill Munley, administrator, Greenville Shriners Hospital. “Phase 3 means that we have returned to a full clinic staff of three doctors and three advanced practice practitioners each day. We are also back to an unabridged surgical schedule – including elective, and our specialty clinics are all now fully operational.”

Specialty clinics at the Greenville Shriners Hospital offer focused treatment to address the needs of patients diagnosed with cerebral palsy, limb deficiency, spina bifida and other conditions.

Munley said early mask compliance and social distancing, coupled with thorough temperature and survey screenings of both employees and patient families, has proven instrumental in the hospital’s ability to report that no patient at the hospital has tested positive after seeking care.

“In the early days of the pandemic, as many radiology centers were closed, we were able to offer an alternative for referring providers whose patients were in need of X-rays,” said J. Michael Wattenbarger, M.D., chief of staff, Greenville Shriners Hospital. “In fact, in May we expanded our clinic operations from five to seven days a week to meet the increasing demand for this service. This also provided an influx of incremental patients whose parents sought an alternative to the emergency room for stable, orthopaedic-related needs.”

Meanwhile, the hospital’s sought-after halo traction program for scoliosis, which requires the child to remain as an inpatient for weeks to months, stayed securely in place. All time-sensitive surgeries also remained scheduled.

Hospital staff – both clinical and non-clinical – divided into “teams.” To avoid any one department from becoming overburdened should multiple employees test positive, hospital leadership requested contact remain isolated between teammates only. The approach was effective, and employee infections remained remarkably low.

While Phase 3 includes the in-person, full function of the hospital’s prosthetic and orthotic services, motion analysis center and rehabilitation department, utilization of the Fast Track Video Visit (FTVV) service remains. Use of the FTVV appointment option has more than doubled, continuing to provide a virtual option for families who wish to remain home.

The Greenville Shriners Hospital is home to the largest team of orthopaedic pediatric surgeons in the Carolinas. South Carolina’s only freestanding children’s hospital has a catchment area that includes Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Multidisciplinary services are provided regardless of the families' ability to pay or insurance status.