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All Washington health care services can resume with safety plan in place

All Washington health care services can re-open with certain safety protocols in place, such as sufficient PPE and hospital capacity.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed an emergency proclamation Monday that allows all health care services, including dentists, to re-open as long as they follow health and safety protocols.

“This is another step. We think of this as a pacing item,” Inslee said.

Different parts of Washington may re-open health care services at different times, based on when they meet certain criteria. Regional emergency health care coalitions will asses coronavirus activity, hospital capacity and availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) to determine when to take the next step.

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Each provider will evaluate their readiness to expand services based on those three standards. If hospitals and doctor’s offices do not have adequate PPE, they will not be allowed to move forward.

“The level of increase that this proclamation will allow will depend on the ability to be prepared for a potential COVID onslaught should this bite us again,” Inslee said.

Inslee’s proclamation lists specific standards that health care providers must meet to provide non-urgent care, including:

  • Continuously monitoring resource capacity and preparing to surge hospital beds, staff and ventilators if there is an outbreak
  • Following the Department of Health’s PPE guidance and having enough PPE on hand
  • Screening patients, visitors and staff for COVID-19 symptoms
  • Maintaining social distancing for patients during scheduling and check-in and in waiting rooms and care areas
  • Using clinical judgment to determine when an elective procedure is necessary and using telemedicine appropriately

RELATED: Some Puget Sound dental workers want more safety measures before reopening

One reason Washington can re-open its health care system now is because WA Health, a centralized hospital reporting system that tracks capacity in real time, is now complete, according to Inslee.