By News-Register staff • 

Governor stops surgeries; protects medical equipment; limits medical visitations

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown this week issued a sweeping executive order to postpone non-urgent health care procedures, restrict hospital visitation, and conserve “personal protective equipment.”

Thursday’s action was the governor’s 7th executive order since March 8 related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Those orders have declared a statewide emergency; closed schools, restaurants and bars; prohibited large gatherings of people; and urged prosecution for excessive pricing on essential consumer goods.

“If immediate action is not taken to conserve personal protective equipment,” the order states, “Oregon runs the risk of running out, which puts our health care providers on the front line of this public health emergency at risk. We must conserve PPE by eliminating all elective and non­urgent procedures that use PPE, including but not limited to masks and gowns.

“This action also helps to preserve other essential items that will be needed during this emergency such as intensive care unit beds, ventilators, and terminal cleaning supplies.”

Saying health care providers need protection from possible exposures to COVID-19, the governor limited non-essential visitations at hospitals and other health care facilities, plus screening of all visitors.

Elective and non-urgent procedures, no later than March 23, are canceled “across all care settings that utilize PPE,” including hospitals, other health centers and clinics, including dental and veterinary procedures. The ban lasts at least until June 15.

There are exemptions if a three-month delay “would put the patient at risk of irreversible harm,” as defined in the order.

Without absolute restrictions, the governor asked that other industries utilizing PPE “cancel or postpone non-essential uses of PPE during the ongoing state of emergency,” to conserve PPE for COVID-19 response.

All medical facilities with surplus PPE have until March 27 to arrange for delivery of such surplus equipment to the state PPE coordinator.

Finally, the executive order delegated to Oregon Health Authority the responsibility to establish guidelines by March 23 for restricting and screen visitors to hospitals and surgery centers. The order is designed “to ensure the safety of patients and health care workers, and to slow the spread of COVID-19.”


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