REMARKS AS PREPARED
Governor Kate Brown
Announcement: Lifting Ban on Non-Elective Surgery
April 23, 2020
Good morning everyone.
Thank you for joining us today. I’m here with Dr. Bruce Goldberg of my Medical Advisory Panel and Dr. Dana Hargunani, the Chief Medical Officer at the Oregon Health Authority.
Until today, during my previous press conferences, I have announced a number of difficult decisions to respond to the coronavirus. On March 23, exactly one month ago, I halted all elective and non-urgent health care procedures that required Personal Protective Equipment. I was gravely concerned at the time about a state and national supply shortage of this essential equipment.
Today I am pleased to share with you a step forward for the health of Oregonians -- and some good news.
Thanks to each and everyone of us doing our part to follow the early and aggressive social distancing measures I put in place, Oregon is in a position where I can lift the executive order delaying non-urgent procedures for our hospitals, clinics, surgical centers, and dental offices.
This order will be lifted as of May 1.
Health care providers must demonstrate they meet the criteria for COVID-19 safety and preparedness. Once they do, they are eligible to restart non-urgent procedures.
Many Oregonians have been hoping for this news, because it means we can now start to think about scheduling that much-needed dental work or medical treatment they’ve been waiting for.
I can personally say that I am excited to hopefully schedule a dental cleaning soon. But I have also heard from many Oregonians who have felt the physical and emotional pain of putting their health care on hold, from a delayed knee surgery to a fertility treatment. I’m grateful to allow these important procedures to resume.
I know that halting these types of procedures has added to the strain on Oregon’s rural hospitals and healthcare providers during this crisis. This order allows them to get back to providing much-needed care for Oregonians.
Today’s good news is a signal that Oregon is on the right path in fighting this virus.
It’s just a small step, and one that, like all others, we need to take with caution. As hospitals, clinics and dental offices begin to bring non-urgent procedures back online, we have to remain vigilant in how we’re doing it.
As most of you know, I grew up in Minnesota, and in the winter our lakes would freeze over. I loved to ice skate on our ponds and lakes. When you’d try to walk on them, you’d take a small step, put your weight on the ice, and then pause. If everything was OK, then you’d take one more small step, put your weight on the ice, and pause again.
This is similar to how we’re approaching reopening Oregon. We are stepping out onto the ice, carefully and cautiously. One step at a time. If we see a crack in the ice or find ourselves in a precarious position, then we will need to pause for longer. Sometimes we may even need to take steps back, toward solid ground.
By lifting this order, we are giving our hospitals, clinics, and medical offices the green light to move forward with non-urgent procedures. Let me be very clear: we still need to proceed with this step carefully.
We will continue monitoring how this is affecting our hospital systems and our health care workers, in line with how the virus is moving in our state.
Lifting this executive order will have a real impact on many of our hospitals and clinics, especially in rural Oregon where these procedures play an important part in the financial stability of our health care system and our workforce.
It will also have a real impact on the quality of life for many Oregonians who have patiently waited to schedule these procedures.
Thank you again to every single one of you — every Oregonian — who has followed the Stay Home, Save Lives order. Thank you to every dental and veterinary office that donated PPE to our hospitals at the outset of this crisis. We are able to lift this executive order because of our collective efforts to protect each other, and I am very grateful.
With that, I will kick it to Dr. Dana Hargunani to share additional details of the guidance.