Nebraska Medicine responds after governor issues DHM aimed at hospital

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Gov. Pete Ricketts issued a directed health measure Friday morning ordering Nebraska Medicine not to perform any pre-scheduled, non-emergency surgeries at its Omaha hospital for a month.

For the first time in its history, Nebraska Medicine enacted its Crisis Standards of Care plan, effective at 9 a.m. Thursday. Patients were advised that while emergency rooms will remain open, the move could prompt rescheduling or lack of appointments, postponement of surgeries, denial of patient transfers, deployment of medical students into support roles, and use of irregular patient care areas.

But Friday’s DHM, set to go into effect at 5 p.m., orders Nebraska Medical Center to definitively halt Class C, D, and E inpatient and outpatient surgeries, which are pre-scheduled and non-emergency medical surgeries, through Feb. 13.

But it doesn’t appear the DHM will have any impact.

Nebraska Medicine issued a response on Friday afternoon, saying the measures they had enacted already were in line with the governor’s order and that “patients should continue to access care as they’ve planned to unless they hear from their physician.”

Their full statement:

“Yesterday, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services issued a directed health measure to Nebraska Medical Center following our declaring Crisis Standards of Care.

The operations changes announced Thursday are consistent with the directed health measure.

The actions we are taking ensure we are prioritizing care for patients with the most urgent medical needs. As outlined in the directed health measure, our medical providers will continue to make case-by-case determinations on surgeries and procedures that must be done to preserve the patient’s life or physical health.

Our crisis plan is grounded in our core values that include our commitment to safety, transparency, equity and fairness and gives all patients access to the full spectrum of care. Current operations are consistent with the directed health measure, so any necessary care will not be delayed. Patients should continue to access care as they’ve planned unless they hear from their physician.”

During this time, doctors will continue to postpone surgeries when appropriate.

Nebraska Medicine doctors put their surgeries in categories by letters:

  • A and B cases have to be done immediately
  • C cases need to be done to make sure the condition doesn’t worsen

Members of Nebraska Medicine’s leadership team said on a Zoom call Thursday that the Crisis Standards of Care was put into motion because the omicron variant crowding the hospital and putting stress on the healthcare system. The current number of staff absences — also due to omicron — was also a factor in the decision. Officials on the call said that they had seen a 10-fold increase in absences in recent weeks, meaning either the staff members themselves were sick or someone in their household was sick and they were required to isolate or care for that other person.

Nebraska Medicine officials told 6 News on Thursday that the plan had to be enacted to make sure non-COVID patients could continue to receive care. Aspects of the plan were intended to remain in place for about two weeks from Monday, Jan. 17.

“It really comes down to the judgment of the clinician to decide where a patient stands within that continuum,” Chief Operations Officer Cory Shaw said. “What might be a B-case for one patient might be a C-case or a D-case. Again, it depends upon the clinical condition, the evaluation of that physician… and their judgment as it relates to that patient’s needs.”

This is a developing story. Stay with 6 News for updates.

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