The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services last night issued updated guidance on providing essential non-COVID-19 care to patients without symptoms of COVID-19 in regions with low and stable incidence of the virus. This is part of Phase 1 in the Administration’s Guidelines for Opening Up America Again

The recommendations update earlier guidance provided by CMS on limiting non-essential surgeries and medical procedures. The new CMS guidelines indicate that when a state has passed the gating criteria articulated in the Administration’s plan for opening America, they can proceed to Phase 1, in which health care organizations can restart care postponed due to COVID-19 in coordination with local and state public health officials.

In considering resuming such services, CMS said hospitals should review the availability of personal protective equipment and other supplies, along with workforce availability, facility readiness, testing capacity and post-acute care capacity in the area.

“We welcome and support today’s guidance from the CMS, which complements the work that the AHA has been doing with other partners in the health field, including the American College of Surgeons, the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack in a statement last night. “This CMS guidance is clearly focused on addressing important health care needs for non-COVID patients, with decisions being made by providers in collaboration with local and state public health leaders. CMS also rightly expects hospitals and health systems to maintain the flexibility needed to quickly respond to a surge should one occur in their community, and to maintain separate caregivers and locations within a facility for non-COVID care.”

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