On May 15, 2020, Governor Murphy issued Executive Order No. 145 (“EO-145”), which lifts, subject to certain restrictions, the suspension of elective surgeries and invasive procedures effective May 26, 2020, ending a 60-day suspension imposed by the Governor’s Office through the earlier-issued Executive Order No. 109. “Elective surgery or invasive procedure” is defined to mean “any surgery or invasive procedure that can be delayed without undue risk to the current or future health of the patient as determined by the patient’s treating physician or dentist.” The lifting of the suspension applies to both licensed “health care facilities,” such as ambulatory surgery centers and hospitals, as well as “outpatient settings not licensed by the Department of Health (e.g., health care professional offices, clinics, and urgent care centers) ”
On Tuesday, May 19th, the New Jersey Department of Health (“DOH”) released additional guidance to ambulatory surgery centers (“ASC’s”), containing additional requirements, limitations, and precautions in accordance with EO-145. Some of the more significant items contained within the guidance include:
1) REQUIRED PRE-SURGERY PATIENT TESTING– ACS’s must test scheduled patients for COVID-19 within 4 days of a procedure and confirm that patient’s negative COVID-19 status before the procedure. No surgeries can be performed at an ASC for a COVID-19 positive patient.
2) REQUIRED PATIENT POST-COVID-TESTING COUNSELING– ASC’s must counsel patients to a) practice self-quarantine from the time of their COVID-19 testing to the time of procedure; b) social distance and wear a mask in their place of self-quarantine; c) immediately inform the ASC if they have any contact with a suspected on confirmed COVID-19 individual; e) immediately inform the facility if they have developed any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 while in quarantine.
3) ADDITIONAL PRE-PROCEDURE MEASURES– Prior to performing any procedure, the ASC must screen the patient for any COVID-19 symptoms and ensure that that the patient has worn a mask, self-quarantined, and socially distanced since testing.
4) REQUIRED ASC COORDINATION WITH HOSPITAL PARTNER– ASC’s must confirm that transfer agreements with a hospital partner are in place and document daily that the hospital partner has sufficient resources to handle any transfers from the ASC.
5) REQUIRED ASC STAFF SCREENING- ASC’s are required to institute the screening of health care staff for symptoms of COVID-19 and have policies in place for the removal of symptomatic employees from the workplace.
6) PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (“PPE”)– ASC’s must a) ensure PPE is worn by healthcare workers in accordance with CDC and DOH recommendations; b) provide staff training on PPE usage; c) have policies in place for PPE for non-direct care employees; and d) train staff on optimizing use of PPE.
7) SOCIAL DISTANCING REQUIREMENTS– ASC’s must account for social distancing in aspects of their operations such as the physical layout of the facility, their scheduling of appointments, and among workforce in work and common areas.
8) VISITOR RESTRICTIONS– ASC’s must restrict visitor access to the facilities by allowing only one support person to accompany any patient.
9) REPORT METRICS– ASC’s must report information regarding their weekly caseload as well as report their inventory of PPE to the State on a daily basis.
The complete DOH guidance, which includes links to additional DOH and CDC guidance around COVID-19 topics, can be found here.
How Frier Levitt Can Help
Frier Levitt has been assisting New Jersey providers throughout the COVID-19 crisis in crafting operating prcedures and policies to ensure compliance with federal and state COVID-19 related mandates – and is equipped to do so with regard to these new, elective surgery requirements as well. Contact Frier Levitt for a consultation to further discuss.