Inslee announces restart of all medical services in Washington

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, Inslee said.

The proclamation requires that providers:

  • Have appropriate personal protective equipment (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 judgment 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. The governor’s office says it feels good about the number of ICU beds available statewide as well as the number of ventilators in Washington, as indicated by the chart above.

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 hand-washing and hygiene, and more, are important to protecting patients and health care workers.

“The great work of many health and dental organizations across the state have led us to resume non-urgent procedures today,” said Sally Watkins, PhD, RN, executive director of the Washington Nurses Association. “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.”

“Bracken Killpack, executive director of the Washington State Dental Association, added that “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.”

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