Gov. Jay Inslee Monday announced the state’s plan for all elective procedures to resume. Each medical or dental practice will assess their own readiness and their communities’ COVID-19 activity to determine whether, and to what degree, they will reopen.
The proclamation requires that providers:
- Have appropriate PPE for workers
- If a certain area does have an outbreak, hospitals need to be prepared to surge their hospitals beds, staff and ventilators
- Implement social distancing and strong hygiene measures within their offices and hospitals
- Screen patients and visitors for symptoms
- Use their clinical judgement for what is considered necessary, using telemedicine when appropriate
- Implement policies to protect workers and seek their feedback
“Our health care system was one of the first in the nation to be hit with COVID-19 cases when there was much we were still learning about the novel virus. Because of the great work of our health care system and communities, we managed the peak of COVID-19 activity in April without having a crisis in our hospitals,” Inslee said. “This plan was developed with many partners in our health care delivery system — including nurses, surgeons, pediatricians, dentists, community health clinics and hospitals.”
Aside from being determined by the COVID-19 activity in different regions of the state, the reopening of health care services are based on three standards of care. Readiness will be determined by the availability of PPE, hospital capacity and more. As the graph above shows, we feel good about the number of ICU beds available statewide as well as the number of ventilators in Washington.
Under this plan, each health care or dental provider must meet certain criteria to be able to begin performing elective procedures. Each provider evaluates their readiness to begin and must maintain standards to continue to see patients.
One of the most important requirements for any provider is that they must have appropriate personal protective equipment for their workers and patients. If they aren’t able to procure enough PPE, they cannot open.
Additional protocols, such as limited numbers of people in waiting areas, physical distancing, temperature checks, frequent handwashing and hygiene, and more, are important to protecting patients and health care workers.
“My thanks to the governor for his collaborative approach to safely expanding access to needed healthcare services, for moving forward with the Safe Start of our economy to mitigate the impact of the state of emergency on social determinants of health, for his recognition of and appreciation for the excellent capabilities and performance of the Washington healthcare system and our team members and clinicians, and for involving a broad array of health system participants in shaping the guidance in his proclamation today,” William G. “Bill” Robertson, president and chief executive officer of MultiCare said.
“The great work of many health and dental organizations across the state have led us to resume non-urgent procedures today. We support the restart of these procedures in a safe manner that recognizes the ongoing national shortage of Personal Protective Equipment, the need to maintain the safety of nurses and other health care workers and the prudent maintenance of surge capacity for a potential resurgence of COVID-19. I appreciate the good work of the health and dental community to develop this strong plan,” said Sally Watkins, PhD, RN, executive director of the Washington Nurses Association.
“The Washington State Dental Association greatly appreciates the efforts of the governor’s office, the Department of Health, Vice Admiral Bono and others in engaging Washington state’s health care providers to develop comprehensive guidelines for providing care during the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe the guidelines are the product of thoughtful and thorough stakeholdering that will enable the safe delivery of much needed care throughout our state. Oral health is integral to overall health and the ability to resume providing timely dental care will lead to improved oral health and better patient outcomes,” said Bracken Killpack, executive director of the Washington State Dental Association.
“We have seen instances where COVID-19 has deterred people from getting needed health services. If you need medical care, you should absolutely contact your provider. Do not be afraid to get treated over fears of COVID-19. You can ask your medical provider about telemedicine services. Your doctor or nurse may be able to help you over the phone or computer,” Inslee said.
Proclamation 20–24.1: Reducing restrictions on, and safe expansion of non-urgent medical and dental procedures