Russell Medical Employee of the year

Stephanie Jones, right, reacts to being named Russell Medical employee of the year Tuesday morning as Russell Medical CEO Jim Peace looks on.

Russell Medical CEO Jim Peace is cautiously breathing a sigh of relief as the medical facility is starting to return to offering services it did before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alexander City Mayor Tommy Spraggins declared it National Hospital Week and Peace helped name Stephanie Jones the Russell Medical Employee of the Year as things return to a new normal.

“We are in a mode to get normal operations up and going,” Peace said. “We started back elective surgeries and (catheter) cases (Monday).”

Peace said all of the elective procedures are being done with safety in mind.

“The whole surgery department has been tested,” Peace said. “Even all the doctors too.”

All patients undergoing procedures will be tested for COVID-19 as well.

Peace said currently the facility is running about half its normal capacity and he feels comfortable doing it that way, seeing as numbers of cases coming through the doors at Russell Medical have declined.

“We had a few days without any new positives here,” Peace said. “We have been keeping close watch on our numbers especially the three-day rolling average to try and determine when we could safely open up.”

Peace said it will be another month before Russell Medical will be performing elective procedures at full capacity and it is still restricting visitors to the facility.

“I think it is important we keep going with proactive measures,” Peace said. “We are creating spacing between procedures to protect patients and staff.”

Jones was part of a team who help started the transitional care unit at Russell Medical. It accepted its first patient in October 2018. She was pleasantly surprised with the honor of being named the 2019 Russell Medical Employee of the Year.

“It’s a great honor,” Jones said. “It means a lot my colleagues selected me.”

Peace said even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Russell Medical has added to its staff of physicians, including an orthopedic doctor and a new general surgeon.

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.