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Pennsylvania issues guidelines so hospitals can resume elective surgeries and procedures

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The Pennsylvania Department of Health released guidance to provide for a process Monday for hospitals and ambulatory surgical facilities to resume elective surgeries, procedures and admissions.

The guidances is in line with recommendations by the American Hospital Association, the American College of Surgeons, the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses and the Children’s Hospital Association, Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Rachel Levine said.

“We know that many Pennsylvanians have had to delay important elective procedures and operations, but it was necessary to ensure that our health care system had enough capacity in case it became overwhelmed with patients with COVID-19,” she said. “Using this guidance, these procedures and admissions can move forward as long as doing so won’t jeopardize the safety of patients and staff, or hamper a hospital or surgical center’s ability to respond to a COVID-19 emergency in that area.”

In order to start elective procedures, facilities should ensure that there is enough personal protective equipment to be prepared for a surge in COVID-19 cases, she said. Facilities also have to be able to safely treat patients without resorting to crisis standards of care, where they would have to prioritize care during a surge.

Facilities must have enough “trained and educated staff” to not only handle the procedures themselves, but a potential surge in hospital patients, she said.

“We’ve been working very closely with our hospital partners to safely ensure that Pennsylvanians who need treatment not related to COVID-19 can get it. This guidance puts forth ways for hospitals and ambulatory surgical facilities to do that while making sure that we stay prepared for any possible resurgence of COVID-19 in those areas,” she said.