Road map aims to help hospitals continue providing care amid surges of COVID-19 cases

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Several medical groups outlined a road map to help hospitals perform essential medical care while still balancing the need for capacity and supplies due to COVID-19. (Getty Images/Naeblys)

A new road map aims to help facilities have enough capacity to combat surges in COVID-19 and continue to provide essential surgeries.

The road map released Thursday by several medical groups comes as hospitals in many states must balance capacity to combat new COVID-19 surges and continue to perform essential surgical procedures.

States required hospitals to cancel elective procedures to preserve capacity at the onset of the pandemic in March in order to conserve capacity and supplies. While hospitals started to resume surgeries in May when shelter-in-place orders were lifted, hospitals have had to balance surges of COVID-19 with the need to resume vital medical care.

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All states required hospitals to cancel elective procedures to preserve capacity at the onset of the pandemic in March, but hospitals have slowly restarted procedures over the past couple of months.

The road map provides a series of principles on how physicians, nurses and hospitals can provide essential care for their patients.

The American College of Surgeons, American Society of Anesthesiologists, Association of perioperative Registered Nurses and American Hospital Association developed the road map.

A major principle is that facilities need to engage in regional cooperation to preserve capacity for new patients so there are enough intensive care unit beds, personal protective equipment, ventilators and staff.

“Daily forecasting of COVID-19 demand on all resources shall be the baseline for determining the ability to add non-COVID-19 cases,” according to a release on the road map.

Facilities should be able to safely treat all patients requiring hospitalization without restoring to crisis standards of care, the road map noted.

Some states such as Arizona set up a state-run surge line that measures capacity across all of the state’s facilities so it can distribute COVID-19 patients evenly and ensure one hospital doesn’t get overwhelmed.

Other principles outlined in the road map include:

  • Establishing a case prioritization policy committee that has leadership among surgery, anesthesia and nursing departments to create a case prioritization strategy.
  • Implementing a face covering and social distancing policy for staff, patients and visitors in non-restricted areas.
  • Facilities shouldn’t provide non-emergent surgical services unless they have adequate PPE and medical surgical supplies “appropriate to the number and type of procedures to be performed” the road map said.