Hospitals, factories gear up to reopen

By Mackenzi Klemann -

LIMA — Ohio’s new workplace guidelines may not come as a surprise, but the staggered state-by-state approach to restarting the economy could complicate plans to reopen business in Ohio.

That’s the case for Diamond Manufacturing of Bluffton, which has been partially open under the stay-at-home order.

“We were already following most of the guidelines,” said Tammy Whitlow, vice president of Diamond Manufacturing of Bluffton.

Whitlow anticipates minor changes: Welders already wear protective gear while on the job and can wear facial coverings while in break rooms or common areas. Social distancing has not been a problem with only a dozen or so workers coming in for special projects during the stay-at-home order. The company may ask employees to stagger lunch breaks, too.

But Whitlow does not know when Diamond will be able to recall its other employees — a problem many Ohio businesses will likely encounter as they prepare to reopen in May.

“We’re waiting on the other states and the businesses to open up,” she said. “We can’t even bring everybody back on Monday.”

Hospitals ready

The temporary ban on elective surgeries and other non-essential medical procedures has been especially costly to hospitals, many of which have had to furlough workers due to declining revenue.

But those hospitals and medical practices are now looking to restart some of those procedures in May.

Mercy Health, for example, has formed a task force to coordinate how the health network will resume elective surgeries and other procedures that were postponed because of the pandemic.

“As soon as we are able, Mercy Health will selectively expand clinical care within our hospitals, including elective procedures, based on patient needs, clinical criteria and physician recommendations,” a statement from Mercy Health said on Monday. “Mercy Health is following all state and federal guidelines, including those from the CDC and Ohio Department of Health, as well as executive orders from state governors. We encourage patients to contact their practice directly with questions and for information about how this may affect their care.”

By Mackenzi Klemann

Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456.

Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456.

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