Governor Kate Brown announced she will allow health care providers to resume scheduling non-emergency and elective surgeries and other procedures, as long as they demonstrate they have met her new requirements for Covid-19 safety and preparedness.
Those requirements include having adequate personal protective equipment to minimize the risk of coronavirus transmission to patients and health care workers and maintaining adequate hospital capacity in the event of a surge in new cases.
Hospitals, surgical centers, medical offices and dental offices that meet those requirements will be able to resume non-urgent procedures on May 1.
Under the framework, hospitals must continue to report PPE supply levels daily to the Oregon Health Authority. Hospitals must also demonstrate adequate Covid-19 testing capacity when needed, including the ability to screen patients before non-urgent procedures, and follow strict infection control protocols.
Facilities that are ready to begin resuming non-urgent procedures will be required to do so gradually, in order to preserve capacity to treat Covid-19 patients, the governor said.
“As anyone waiting for an elective surgery knows, ‘non-urgent’ does not mean ‘minor,'” Governor Brown said. “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.”
She went on to thank affected Oregonians for this sacrifice, which she said was to ensure that health care workers had adequate they need to treat COVID-19 patients.
“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,” she said.
In a separate statement Thursday, House Republican Leader Christine Drazan, of Canby, welcomed the governor’s decision, saying the original order had led to layoffs in the health care field, particularly in rural areas, and that this was a small but important step in “getting Oregon back to work.”
“Our rural hospitals, dentists, surgical centers and other specialty medical providers made a huge sacrifice when they had their doors closed to non-essential procedures and donated their stock of personal protective equipment in order to prepare the state for a surge of Covid-19 cases,” she said. “We saw a spike in unemployment claims in the medical field, and countless Oregonians were not able to receive treatment.
“Now, those facilities can get back to work and Oregonians will once again have access to necessary medical procedures.”