Member Alert April 23: Administration Releases Guidelines for Reopening Healthcare Services

This evening, Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack, M.D. outlined the administration’s guidelines for reopening certain medical services and healthcare facilities. The first phase of reopening, which begins Monday, April 27, will include non-urgent/emergent healthcare services, diagnostic, radiology and lab services in outpatient hospital settings, healthcare clinics and medical offices, physical therapy settings and chiropractic offices, optometrists and dental offices (although with enhanced aerosol protections).

The phased, gradual reopening process may be adjusted should a COVID-19 surge occur. Dr. Stack also stressed that telehealth should continue to be utilized as much as possible. Additional requirements include:

  • No visitors, except when necessary for end-of-life, vulnerable populations, minors, etc., and then only to minimum essential extent.
  • Eliminate traditional waiting rooms/common areas and use non-traditional alternatives, such as a “parking lot lobby.”
  • Maintain social distancing in all settings and install plexiglass barriers when possible.
  • Screen all healthcare workers, patients and others for temperature and COVID-19 symptoms upon arrival. Sick staff should be required to stay home.
  • Plan for enhanced workplace sanitizing.
  • Plan for and ensure enhanced hand hygiene compliance.
  • Provide easily accessible hand sanitizer throughout the office/building.
  • Each healthcare setting must be able to procure necessary PPE via normal supply chains.

Specific guidance was also outlined in regards to masks:

  • All healthcare providers and staff must wear surgical/procedural masks while in healthcare office/facility.
  • All patients and other persons in healthcare office/facility must:
    • Wear a surgical/procedural mask while in an acute care hospital or ambulatory surgical center.
    • Wear either a surgical/procedural mask or cloth mask/face covering in all other healthcare settings.

The slide deck utilized during the press conference, as well as written guidance, will be made available this evening at kycovid19.ky.gov.

KMA Submits Recommendations to Administration for Physician Offices

This morning KMA submitted recommendations to Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack, M.D. regarding the reopening of physician offices, a number of which were included in the guidance released this afternoon for Phase I. Dr. Stack thanked KMA during the press conference for providing valuable feedback and input.

The recommendations emphasize the continuation of telehealth services and suggest that changes made to the service by insurers and CMS be continued. Preliminary results from KMA’s physician survey have indicated that while 88% of respondents had not used telemedicine prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 51% of physicians now say they will continue to use telemedicine, and that less than 6% of patients had an unfavorable opinion of it. The guidelines strongly suggest that for telemedicine to continue and become more widely accepted and improved, the recent regulatory and reimbursement changes should be made permanent.

Please Complete: COVID-19 Physician Survey

KMA has created a survey for physicians regarding several aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on practices and patient care. The short, multiple choice survey can be completed anonymously if preferred and should take less than 5 minutes to finish. KMA will share the results of the survey with members.

If you have not already, please take a few minutes and complete the survey here. The survey will be available until Friday, April 24 at 5 p.m. ET.