Here are the new guidelines for elective medical and dental surgeries in NJ

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order earlier this month allowing elective medical and dental surgeries and invasive procedures to resume today, Tuesday, May 26. The Department of Health issued detailed guidelines for new procedures for hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers.

Facilities must establish a prioritization policy for providing care and the scheduling of procedures. Scheduling must be coordinated to promote social distancing and minimize the time in waiting areas. Signs must be posted at facility entrances in appropriate languages about COVID-19 symptoms and precautions.

Patients should be counseled to self-quarantine following testing until the day of surgery. Facilities must have a process to screen patients for COVID-19 symptoms prior to scheduled procedures. 

Facilities resuming elective services are required to:

  • Comply with state and CDC guidelines to protect against further spread of COVID-19
  • Institute screening of staff for symptoms and have policies in place for removal of symptomatic employees
  • Enforce social distancing requirements in work and common areas
  • Require masks for patients, expect patients receiving services that would not allow for masking
  • When possible non-COVID care zones should be used in facilities that serve both COVID-19 and non-COVID patients
  • Have an established plan for cleaning and disinfection prior to using facilities to serve non-COVID patients
  • Facilities providing COVID-19 care should continue to be prepared for potential surges
  • Facilities should be prepared to modify the resumption of clinical services in conjunction with surge status and to repurpose and redeploy staff to urgent care roles to the extent feasible

Ambulatory surgical centers should not perform procedures on COVID-19 positive patients.

Hospitals should have ICU, critical care and medical-surgical beds and staff available for patients. Hospitals must also have a sustained downward trajectory for COVID-19 related issues for 14 days, with each day’s data calculated using the average of the three most recent days for the following:

  • Influenza-like illness or COVID-19 like illness
  • COVID-19 Infection rates
  • COVID-19 Hospitalizations
  • COVID-19 Emergency room admissions
  • COVID-19 ICU, Critical Care and Medical Surgical bed use
  • Ventilator use
  • Ventilatory availability

Facilities must also have a plan consistent with CDC and New Jersey Department of Health recommendations for patient and patient support person use of Personal Protective Equipment. They should implement PPE policies that account for the adequacy of available PPE, staff training on and optimized use of PPE, and policies for the conservation of PPE.

Facilities must implement disinfection and cleaning protocols and cohort COVID-19 patients and non-COVID patients. No visitors should be allowed except for limited circumstances, which include baby delivery and pediatric patient surgery. 

To view the guidance for hospitals visit: https://nj.gov/health/legal/covid19/5-19-2020_HospitalGuidance_forResumingElectives.pdf

To view guidance for ambulatory surgery centers visit:  https://nj.gov/health/legal/covid19/5-19-2020_ASCGuidance_forResumingElectives.pdf