Today, I implore Governor DeWine and DOH Director Dr. Acton to immediately retract their order preventing Ohio’s Health Care system from performing “non-emergent” surgery and “other procedures”. There were 2 reasons stated for this order:
1. Preservation of PPE for the COVID-19 surge
2. Mitigation of COVID-19 spread in medical/dental offices
Let me address (2.) first:
Medical professionals are as well versed in infectious disease spread as anyone in our society. At this point, they are fully prepared to take all steps to combine typical sterile procedure with social distancing, accompanied by PPE. Patients will be directed to wear masks when possible when entering facilities. Some patients will still be fearful to enter medical facilities despite these precautions (I’m hearing this a lot right now in the medical community), so any fears of a “flood” of patients for “elective surgery” isn’t going to happen, and medical facilities can determine how to best mitigate viral spread using their protocols.
OK, now for (1.):
I keep hearing about Ohio’s PPE “severe shortage”. I’ve covered this topic before, but for a quick recap:
Our health care workers in Ohio were frequently being denied proper PPE until 2 weeks ago in many hospitals. I heard of administrators taking masks off of technologists in front of patients, ordering all workers not to wear masks in public areas for fear of “scaring our patients”, and telling technologists performing procedures within inches of suspected or even confirmed COVID patients’ faces for up to an hour that they couldn’t wear N95 masks. This isn’t “rumor”, trust me. Physicians were having to enter stockrooms FULL of PPE to get their nurses and techs proper protection. This was perhaps well intentioned, though of horridly bad judgement, as they were hoarding for the surge that never came, because of the faulty “COVID-19 models”.
There is no general PPE shortage in Ohio that would prevent Ohioans from getting the “elective surgery” that they deserve. Waiting until “May 1” to “allow us” to get our medical care is too late, and it makes me wonder whether our leadership really understands how real life medical care works. For those who need “elective surgery”, they first have to get a surgery date. Then, they have to get “approval” from their insurance company, if they have insurance. Then, they are required to get a physical examination from their primary care provider, whose office is closed to “elective physical exams” right now. So, where is the logic in this May 1 removal of this order?
Does Ohio have the PPE right now for elective surgery or not? If so, remove the ban today, as it will take 1-2 weeks of prep and bureaucracy to get on our surgical tables.
Some of you are going to say, “but they said that if we were really in pain we should talk to our doctors and maybe they can make an exception…”. Dirty secret: the well heeled and politically connected will get that exception first, and outside of that, docs are scared that they will be “penalized” if they operate “electively” during the ban. Get in line and good luck with that.
As we have been told by our political leaders, “It’s not about the date, it’s about the facts and the data.” Stage #1 of the staged economic restart is “elective health care”, and it needs to start immediately.
For those who suspect that I have personal financial interest in restarting the “elective” medical economy, I have none. I am recently retired from “paid health care provision” and now only do volunteer medical work. My interest/work on the COVID-19 topic is purely educational.