Elective procedures were radically scaled back across the country to preserve supplies and prepare hospitals for surge capacity. However, the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted state and local communities across the country with different intensities, at different times. The processes to restart invasive services will be substantially more complex than the sudden stop, impacted by access to COVID-19 testing, trends in COVID-19 prevalence, patient and healthcare worker safety, adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies, and case prioritization.
As we continue to track COVID-19 measures across the country and in our own service areas, the decision about when to restart essential, but non-urgent/non-emergent outpatient procedures, and how quickly operations may be ramped up will be highly individualized for every program.
As states enter Phase One, outpatient care that was postponed during the pandemic may be resumed once permitted by the state and local authorities. Creating "non-COVID care" zones, or NCC zones, are an important strategy in planning the safe resumption of essential, lab-based interventional procedures.
A steering team or committee with the appropriate level of authority to make clinical, operational and financial decisions on the fly is an important first step. The team can be scaled to the size and type of your program, but it should ideally include the SL and/or practice leader, physician and clinical leaders, as well as financial and supply chain representatives.
This steering team should be delegated with the responsibility of creating a cohesive approach to restarting essential procedures, managing progression or change as needed, and defining and measuring milestones and outcomes.
In this dynamic environment, try to leverage local, regional and national resources to help with decisions day-to-day and week-to-week. If your program is part of a hospital or healthcare system, your first line resource will be the senior leadership team and the infection prevention leaders.
Additionally, take advantage of the ACC and MedAxiom COVID-19 resource for up-to-date clinical guidelines and resources as we progress through post-pandemic milestones.
Visit the following links for the latest COVID-19 information from federal agencies and other credible sources: