Coronavirus: Is the suspension of elective procedures in Minnesota set to be lifted?

There are signs that an announcement could be made soon.
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While Gov. Tim Walz is set to extend the Stay at Home order during his Thursday press conference, it is set to be followed by an announcement lifting restrictions on elective medical procedures.

BMTN understands that while it's not been decided yet when elective surgeries will resume, an Executive Order announcing it will be forthcoming from Gov. Walz on Monday or Tuesday.

On Thursday, the Minnesota Department of Health launched a page seeking public comments on guidance it has put together for the lifting of the suspension on elective procedures, which has been in place since late March.

The draft guidance suggests that hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers and clinics may resume elective procedures on an as-yet undesignated day in May.

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The public comment period ends on Saturday, giving people just three days to respond.

"Your responses will be considered public information," the page says. "MDH, other state agency, and Governor's Office staff will review feedback before finalizing the Guidance for Elective Procedures document."

State Rep. Heather Edelson tweeted that the MDH will "update its plan to resume elective procedures by by Executive Order of the Gov early next week."

The draft guidance, which includes dental and veterinary care, states that each facility will have to put in place a protocol that considers the protection and the "maintenance of capacity for treatment of possible COVID-19 cases," amid concerns of a possible surge in coronavirus cases.

Furthermore, it includes a provision for the Health Commissioner, Jan Malcolm, to recommend that the suspension of elective procedures be reinstated in the event of a surge.

Facilities would also have to conduct "active health screening of all staff ... at the beginning of each shift to assess for signs and symptoms of COVID-19," including a fever and symptom test.

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Patients and other visitors must also wear a cloth face covering or a mask when at the facility.

MDH is also giving hospitals and clinics the option of testing patients for COVID-19 prior to an elective procedure "to help inform infection prevention and control practices to protect staff and patient safety," which would take place 24-72 hours before the procedure to ensure a test result can be obtained.

"A facility’s decision to proceed with any procedure during the COVID-19 pandemic must include an assessment of the risks and benefits, and informed consent by patients regarding those risks including potential COVID-19 infection," the draft guidance notes.

The guidance also has steps for PPE for employees, and procedures to take to reduce exposure and transmission of COVID-19 in facilities.

You can read it here.

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