Re-opening Non-emergent Non-COVID-19 Healthcare

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released recommendations on “Re-opening Facilities to Provide Non-emergent Non-COVID-19 Healthcare: Phase I.” Recognizing that many areas of the United States might experience decreasing rates of COVID-19-related hospital admissions, CMS has revised the original recommendation to limit all non-essential care. Accordingly, CMS suggest the state and local authorities to “be flexible and allow facilities to provide care for patients needing non-emergent, non-COVID-19 healthcare.” The new recommendations draw from the phased approach to re-opening the U.S. economy and Gating Criteria as outlined in the “Guidelines for Opening Up America Again.”

In order to maximize efficiency of healthcare while maintaining public health safety, CMS recommends a tailored approach based on regional incidence rates of COVID-19. As such, “[c]areful planning is required to resume in-person care of patients requiring non-COVID-19 care[.]” In particular, local authorities must consider available healthcare facilities, adequate workforce, as well as testing capabilities and supplies before easing restrictions to provide care for patients with chronic diseases and other non-COVID-19 medical requirements.

The recommendations focus on some of the following considerations:

  • Healthcare facilities should evaluate local COVID-19 incidence and trends prior to resuming in-person care;
  • Medical personnel should prioritize surgical/procedural care for chronic disease management;
  • Establishing continuously monitored Non-COVID Care (NCC) zones could provide necessary access to care;
  • Healthcare professional must continue wearing personal protective equipment (PPE);
  • Patients seeking care should wear cloth face covering if surgical masks are in short supply;
  • Staff and incoming patients should be routinely screened for COVID-19 symptoms;
  • Social distancing procedures, including minimized wait time and low patient volumes should remain in place at all times; and
  • All facilities and equipment must be regularly disinfected following CDC guidelines.

Furthermore, healthcare facilities must continue increasing testing capabilities to ensure the incoming patients and staff are COVID-19 symptoms free prior to attending medical procedures.

For more information on related topics visit the HSDL Featured Topic on Pandemics and Epidemics or view other resources related to emergency preparedness.  In addition, you can find more data in our new COVID-19 Special Collection. Please note that an HSDL login is required to view some of these resources.

Need help finding something?  Ask one of our librarians for assistance!