PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Non-emergency medical and dental procedures can now officially resume in Oregon, though there continue to be restrictions and guidelines for what needs to happen.
Offices must practice social distancing, limit the capacity to 50% and have at least 2 weeks of personal protective equipment on hand at the location. OHSU said it will be taking a gradual approach and will begin scheduling non-urgent procedures in the coming weeks. Kaiser said, as they open up services, they will be keeping a close eye on their PPE supply.
“We are reaching back out to patients to bring them back in a staged fashion,” said Dr. Stella Dantas, Associate Medical Director for Ambulatory and Convenient Care at Kaiser Permanente. “So, eventually, we will get to all services, but again, it’s up to 50% initially, but we have to stage it in a thoughtful way.”
Meanwhile, doctors are continuing to provide virtual care. Dantas said if you have questions or concerns about your health, do not hesitate to reach out to your doctor for answers.
The Veterans Affairs Medical Center said it is also looking at procedures that are time-sensitive. As the VA phases back to non-emergency procedures, they will be testing veterans for COVID-19 two days prior to their procedure.
Over at ORM Fertility, on Friday they started to see patients at the clinic, but in a different way. Staff now screens for COVID-19 symptoms and checks temperatures. There are also markers to indicate physical distancing.
“We are still providing a majority of our care through tele- and video conferencing, and so far, patients who need blood work done or need an ultrasound or for a surgical procedure, those are the patients that are now being able to come back into the clinic,” said Dr. Amanda Hurliman of ORM Fertility.
Dentist offices are also allowed to open though KOIN 6 News found out many won’t open on Friday. While things will look different, these doctors look forward to bringing services back at the right time.
“This is a really exciting time, it’s a time we’ve been hoping to get to,” said Hurliman. “I am really proud of Oregon and I’m proud of all the health care providers and patients for all the sacrifices they have made.”
Gov. Kate Brown made the announcement on April 23 when she laid out the framework for resuming non-urgent and elective procedures.
“As anyone waiting for an elective surgery knows, ‘non-urgent’ does not mean ‘minor,’” Brown said that day. “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.”
While Brown said 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.”
Then on Friday, the governor said she is considering opening rural counties with low infection rates starting May 15.
She announced the plan during a press conference alongside health officials from the Oregon Health Authority on Friday morning.
The new strategies are part of Brown’s broader roadmap to reopen Oregon. She said reopening the rest of Oregon will happen slowly and not in “one fell swoop.”