New recommendations provide guidance to healthcare facilities and patients.
The US administration has suggested that healthcare facilities are ready to be opened in many areas. This week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a guide for patients and beneficiaries to consider when evaluating their timelines to resume in-person care. During the height of the pandemic, many healthcare facilities and patients postponed non-emergency, in-person care in order to keep patients and providers safe and to ensure the capacity to care for COVID-19 patients. As states and regions across the United States reportedly are seeing a decline in cases of COVID-19, CMS is providing these recommendations to ensure that non-emergency healthcare resumes safely and that patients are receiving needed in-person treatment that may have been postponed due to the public health emergency.
On April 19, CMS issued Phase 1 recommendations to safely resume in-person care in areas with low incidence or relatively low and stable incidence of COVID-19 cases. CMS is also providing more information as healthcare systems, providers, and facilities further expand in-person care delivery.
Recommendations from CMS cover a range of topics to ensure patient and clinician safety, including:
- facility considerations
- testing and sanitation protocols
- personal protective equipment and supplies
- workforce availability.
As with Phase 1 recommendations, decisions to reopen healthcare facilities should be consistent with federal, state, and local orders, CDC guidance, and in collaboration with state and local public health authorities.
CMS has issued recommendations to help guide patients as they consider seeking in-person, non-emergency treatment. Ultimately, patients should rely on their providers’ suggested course of treatment. A new patient guide can be found in English here: and in Spanish.
The behavioral health community faces different challenges when considering re-opening practice where medical office conditions are not the norm. For more considerations related to re-opening of healthcare facilities as it is realized in behavioral care environments, see the Telebehavioral Health Institute’s Checklist for Getting Back to the Office After COVID-19.