ST. CLOUD -- Health care systems like CentraCare are ready to start helping residents who have been putting off elective procedures.

Earlier this week Governor Tim Walz gave the green light to allow elective procedures starting next week.

Dr. Christopher Boelter is with CentraCare. He says when the pandemic began a new scoring system was put in place nation wide to prioritize medically necessary operations.

Based on that information, we can look at an individual on their condition and you can work through that scoring system and hospitals can set a threshold where anyone under the threshold would be considered a candidate.

Elective procedures are anything from treating chronic pain to slowing the progression of a disease.

Boelter says they are exploring all options, including limiting what surgeries are performed at the St. Cloud Hospital.

One of the things we are looking at is if the procedure needs to be done in St. Cloud. Could the procedure be safely performed at one of our regional sites by their surgeon. We can partner with the providers in those areas to make sure that experience is exactly like they would have at the St. Cloud Hospital.

He says one benefit to this would be limiting the chances of someone being exposed to COVID-19 with St. Cloud being a regional center.

Boelter says they have begun reaching out to patients to start scheduling surgeries, however, given the current situation, there are still some nerves among patients.

That discussion is what would be the risk of leaving my house, and what's the risks that I might coming in contact with a COVID patient. What's the risks associated with surgery where I may have COVID but not be symptomatic.

Boelter says as they continue to plan for the surge of the pandemic, they are confident as an organization they have the necessary equipment, staff and protocols in place to keep everyone safe while providing quality care to the community.

Patients are encouraged to reach out to their provide via MyChart with any questions or concerns.

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