On Friday, May 15, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy signed an Executive Order allowing elective surgeries to again resume in the state of New Jersey.
While Executive Order No. 145 makes it clear the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency continues to exist, it lifts a temporary suspension of elective surgeries and invasive procedures imposed by a previous Executive Order in the early stages of the pandemic.
Here are some of the key points about the latest Order:
- When It Takes Effect: Gov. Murphy’s latest Executive Order allows elective surgeries, including medical and dental procedures, to resume on Tuesday, May 26 at 5:00 a.m.
- New Policies: Elective surgical procedures will be subject to limitations and precautions related to the pandemic, and the NJ Department of Health will issue policies by May 18, 2020 to address which types of facilities may resume, whether certain procedures should be prioritized, protocol for patients to undergo COVID-19 testing, PPE and staffing requirements, and more. The Division of Consumer Affairs will issue similar policies to address how elective procedures may proceed in outpatient settings not licensed by the Health Department.
- “Elective” Procedures: Previously, Executive Order No. 109 (issued on March 23, 2020) suspended all elective surgeries and invasive procedures beginning on March 27. “Elective” procedures are defined as any surgery that can be delayed without undue risk to the patient.
New Jersey’s initial suspension of elective procedures was intended to preserve capacity in the state’s health care system, preserve PPE, and free-up providers to assist in battling a surge of COVID-19 cases, which peaked in terms of their impact on the health care system in April. Over the last month, that suspension, other orders, and social distancing directives have helped bring the rates of new cases down drastically.
As noted in the Executive Order, New Jersey’s three-day average for new confirmed positive COVID-19 cases peaked at 4,064 on April 4. By May 11, the three-day average fell to 1,572 – a 61% decrease. The three-day average of hospitalizations also decreased by 71% during this time; from a peak of 869 new patients on April 10, to 250 new patients by May 11.
Surgeries to Resume in Phases
“Elective” procedures covered under the Order include any surgeries and invasive procedures that are not immediately medically necessary. While that can include cosmetic surgery, it also covers a broad range of procedures that in some cases can be quite serious, such non-emergency treatments for people dealing with chronic pain, or procedures to diagnose an illness.
Under the order, elective surgeries are slated to resume in phases, beginning with urgent procedures. Hospitals and medical facilities will also need to develop plans in accordance to evolving guidance. These plans must include protocols for testing patients 72 hours before their surgeries, quarantine of patients three days leading up their surgery, and symptom screenings the day of surgery.
Health officials say those who test positive for COVID-19 or who are displaying symptoms should not have procedures that aren’t urgent.
A New Normal: Our Attorneys Are Available to Help
Gov. Murphy’s Executive Order is one of several recent moves to re-open New Jersey, including numerous businesses and public spaces. While the state begins to resume commerce and activity, many limitations and social distancing directives will still apply. The same will likely hold true for local courts.
At Levinson Axelrod, P.A., we know many clients and New Jersey residents have been awaiting needed surgeries and medical procedures related to their injuries. Although defined as “elective,” these procedures are often crucial to helping patients diagnose serious ailments, or overcome debilitating pain and limitations. As new protocols are unveiled, we’re hopeful they will continue to strike a balance between providing needed services, and keeping people and the public safe.
As our state returns to a new normal, our firm remains available to victims and families across New Jersey. We’re still reviewing potential claims from victims and families, communicating with our clients, and working hard on their cases. We’re also happy to offer free consultations via phone, e-mail, or videoconferencing about personal injury or workers’ compensation matters. To speak with an attorney about your potential case, contact us.