Brown: Non-urgent medical procedures can resume May 1


Non-urgent procedures can resume if all requirements are met

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown held a press conference Thursday morning during which she laid out the framework for resuming non-urgent and elective procedures.

Along with the other various measures she has taken, Gov. Brown’s “Stay at home” executive order on March 23 halted, among other things, all non-urgent medical procedures. Now, as the state considers how to gently reopen, Brown has announced a framework that will allow those procedures to resume, as long as new requirements for safety and preparedness are met, on May 1.

“Today I am pleased to share with you a step forward for the health of Oregonians and some good news,” said Brown at the conference. “Thanks to everyone doing our part, Oregon is in a position where I can lift the executive order delaying non-urgent procedures.”

Keeping an adequate number of personal protective equipment and maintaining a contingency plan in the event that COVID-19 cases rise again in Oregon are among the requirements set forth by the state for non-urgent medical procedures to take place, Brown said.

“As anyone waiting for an elective surgery knows, ‘non-urgent’ does not mean ‘minor,’” said Brown in a press release. “This is incredibly important medical care that we would not have told providers to delay if the threat of COVID-19 had not made it necessary.”

Brown thanked Oregonians for their sacrifices during these unprecedented times.

“Lifting this order will allow our health care system to get up and running again, with appropriate safeguards in place, so that Oregonians can get health care treatment without delay,” Brown said.

While Brown says she is glad to be restarting non-urgent procedures, she stressed that Oregonians must still proceed with caution, warning that the state “may even need to take steps back.”

So far, more than 2,100 Oregonians have tested positive for and 83 have died from the novel coronavirus, which was first detected in the state on Feb. 28.

Brown held her press conference alongside — while maintaining social distance — Dr. Dana Hargunani of the Oregon Health Authority and Dr. Bruce Goldberg of the Governor’s Medical Advisory Panel, both of whom described the requirements for resuming these procedures.

Dr. Dana Hargunani of the Oregon Health Authority at a press conference announcing the lifting of restrictions on non-urgent medical and dental procedures during the pandemic, April 23, 2020 (KOIN)

Find full framework details at the bottom of this article

In terms of veterinary procedures, the halt was under a different executive order and the governor will be looking at steps forward in order to get them up and running once again. Brown thanked pet owners for their patience and hopes to have an update soon.

KOIN 6 News’ Lisa Balick asked when testing capacity will be expanded to those without any dire symptoms.

“We know expanding testing capacity is critically important,” answered Dr. Hargunani. “At the moment, 3,000 tests are possible per day. We anticipate we will be able to expand that.”

Yet, people remain worried about asymptomatic carriers as the economy slowly reopens. Regardless, Doctor Hargunani said that they are still focusing on those most at risk.

“I think it’s also important to know that even though there are some individuals who have no symptoms with COVID, that they are less likely to cause transmission of the virus,” said Dr. Hargunani. “Our guidance has historically been really focused for those most as risk of COVID and those most at risk of transmitting COVID.”

Brown also said that she’s asked the Oregon Health Authority to begin drafting a public health strategy.

Criteria for hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers

Prior to resuming non-urgent procedures:

  • Capacity at the hospital can accommodate an increase in both COVID-19 hospitalizations in addition to increased post-procedure hospitalizations and other ongoing needs for hospital level of care
  • The facility has adequate PPE supplies on hand
  • The facility has access to adequate testing capacity
  • The facility is following strict infection control and visitation policies
  • Necessary resources for peri-operative care are available

Required once non-urgent procedures resume:

  • To start, facilities must limit the volume of non-emergent and elective procedures to a maximum of 50% pre-COVID-19 procedure volume
  • In order to maintain or expand this volume, facilities must continue to meet all items in the previous criteria
  • Facility must maintain a plan to reduce or stop non-emergency and elective procedures should a surge/resurgence of COVID-19 cases occur in their region or in the case that prior criteria cannot be met
  • Procedures must be prioritized based on whether their continued delay will have an adverse medical outcome

Criteria for medical and dental offices

Required prior to resuming non-urgent procedures:

  • The office must have adequate PPE supplies on hand
  • Medical or dental office is following strict infection control policies as
    recommended by CDC

Required once non-urgent procedures resume:

  • Decrease caseload volume to maximize social distancing.
  • In order to maintain or expand this volume, office must continue to
    meet all items in prior criteria
  • Medical or dental offices must maintain a plan to reduce or stop non-emergency and elective procedures should a surge/resurgence of COVID-19 cases occur in their region.
  • Prioritize procedures based on whether their continued delay will have
    an adverse health outcome
  • Non-emergent and elective procedures should be prioritized
    based on indication and urgency
  • Strongly consider the balance of risks vs. benefits for patients in higher-risk groups such as those over age 60 and those with compromised immune systems or lung and heart function
  • Medical and dental offices should utilize enhanced risk screening of patients prior to delivering care

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