By Mike Kruzman /

A local hospital is again performing surgeries to help with patients’ well-being, while officials stress the importance of using their emergency room, when needed.

St. Joseph Mercy Livingston, along with other hospitals in the Health System, is taking a phased reopening approach with surgeries. St. Joe’s Livingston and St. Joseph Mercy Brighton Health Center President John O’Malley said now that they are certain they have the right policies and procedures in place to keep everyone safe, they have begun performing essential, time-sensitive surgeries. These procedures, like cancer operations or vascular bypass may not be immediately life-threatening, but will result in the worsening of a patient’s health if not addressed. O’Malley said these procedures are warranted and don’t go against the governor’s executive order.

Additionally, O’Malley says St. Joe’s has enhanced its safety measures such as creating COVID-19-free zones to separate patients that have the virus from those who don’t. He said they are screening and testing all in-patients and patients showing symptoms, providing masks for clinicians and visitors, and following CDC standards for safety with 3 levels of cleaning: sanitizing, disinfecting, and sterilizing.

O’Malley says that the number of home deaths in Livingston County has gone up during the pandemic, and it is his fear that this is happening because people are afraid to come to the emergency room for fear of contracting the coronavirus. He said he cannot emphasize enough that if someone firmly believes they should come to the emergency department, then do not hesitate to do so.