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News & Press: Advocacy

COVID-19 Response: Resuming Voluntary or Elective Surgeries and Procedures

Tuesday, April 28, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Chet Seward
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Governor Polis’ announcement on Sunday evening of the Safer at Home executive order marks the next stage in Colorado’s COVID-19 response and for many ophthalmologists provides a much-needed path to get their practices back to work. The suspension of non-urgent/elective procedures on March 29, 2020, was met with determination as ophthalmologists across the state quickly responded to help limit the spread of the virus. Similar resolve and continued thoughtfulness are now necessary as ophthalmology practices begin to resume certain surgeries and other procedures.

 

The following details Executive Order D 2020 045 and Public Health Order 20-29 that permit non-urgent, voluntary or elective surgeries and procedures to begin again under certain conditions (effective April 27, 2020-May 26, 2020).[1] CSEPS knows that the suspension of these services has had profound impacts on ophthalmology practices around the state. We encourage you to review the entire Executive Order and PHO.[2] A related FAQ may also provide important insights. The following provides a summary of the medical facilities section of the PHO.[3] If you perform procedures at an ASC then refer to the hospital facilities section of the PHO for other important information.

 

Voluntary or elective surgeries and procedures (procedures) may resume only if all of the following requirements are met:

  • 2-week supply of PPE: Must have access to enough PPE to sustain recommended use for 2 weeks without having to implement emergency PPE-conserving measures.
  • Extended use/reuse of PPE must follow CDC guidance. Proper doffing and donning training is required.
  • Infection control: Strict infection control policies as recommended by the CDC must be utilized.
  • Universal symptom screening: A universal symptom screening process must be used for all staff, patients, and visitors. Symptomatic patients/visitors should be referred to their PCP and special steps must be taken for symptomatic employees.
  • Facemasks: Nonmedical personnel must wear a facemask (cloth if necessary), unless their health prevents it. All patients and visitors must wear a face covering (cloth if necessary). Masks may be removed when social distancing of at least 6 feet is possible. Provide masks to those who arrive without one.
  • Social distancing: Continue social distancing of at least 6 feet wherever possible and use physical barriers within patient care areas when possible.
  • Staggered patient scheduling and increased cleaning: Schedule patients so that providers have sufficient time to change PPE and ensure rooms and equipment can be cleaned and disinfected between each patient.
  • Telehealth and virtual check-in: Continue to maximize the use of telehealth and virtual office visits. Utilize virtual check-in when possible or have patients remain outside the building until the treatment room is ready.
  • Stick to the plan: Establish guidelines to ensure adherence to the principles outlined above. Consult with the treating provider(s) about whether the procedure is elective or non-essential.
  • 2-week checkup: Reassess operations every 2 weeks.
  • Stop if surge: Be prepared with a plan to reduce or stop procedures if there is a surge or resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the region.

 

CSEPS continues to collaborate with other medical societies across the House of Medicine on the COVID-19 response. In addition, we are actively advocating with the Governor’s office, state and local health departments, legislative leaders and other policymakers on your behalf on issues ranging from securing more PPE, enhancing testing capacity especially for health care workers to ensure a viable workforce, and public and private payer outreach to minimize administrative burdens. Stay tuned for more details.



[1] According to this FAQ document from the state, Executive Order D 2020 045 applies statewide, regardless of local jurisdiction orders.

[2] Failure to comply with these orders could result in penalties, including jail time, and fines and may be subject to discipline on one’s professional license.

[3] See section “IV. Hospital Facilities” of the PHO for requirements for “hospital and other surgical Facilities.”