The Department of Health has issued guidance for hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers to begin resuming surgeries.

Facilities that restart elective services must establish additional steps to protect healthcare workers and patients, including:

  • Comply with state and CDC standards to protect against the spread of COVID-19;
  • Perform a preoperative COVID-19 RT-PCR test on each patient who is to undergo elective surgery, within 96 hours prior to the scheduled time for the procedure, and ensure that the test result is negative;
  • Establish the review of personnel to detect symptoms and have policies established for the replacement of symptomatic employees;
  • Enforce social distancing requirements at work and in common areas;
  • Require cloth covers or masks for patients, except those receiving services that do not allow covering the face;
  • Whenever possible, establish care zones for non-COVID-19 patients in facilities that serve patients with and without COVID-19;
  • Facilities treating COVID-19 cases should continue to prepare for potential new waves of cases;

Additionally, ambulatory surgical centers should not perform procedures on COVID-19 patients who have tested positive. Centers should have a plan for patients and their support persons to wear personal protective equipment (PPE). Centers should implement cleaning and disinfection protocols and group COVID-19 patients from other patients.

Guidance For Dentists, Eye Doctors, And Other Health Care Offices

The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs has published guidance for restarting elective surgeries for professional health care offices, private practices, clinics, urgent care centers, community medical centers.

Requirements include, but are not limited to:

Prioritize services that, if deferred, are most likely to harm the patient.

Prioritize at-risk populations that would benefit the most from these services.

Require anyone visiting the office for an in-person visit to wear, at a minimum, a cloth face covering

  • Call all patients seeking in-person appointments (or the patient's parents/guardians) to: (1) assess whether an in-person visit is necessary; (2) determine the patient's current health status; (3) determine if the patient has had a known exposure to COVID-19, has compatible symptoms, or has tested positive; (4) determine the time elapsed from positive test results, and (5) advise the patient during in-person appointment scheduling of the requirement to wear a face-covering.
  • Examine all patients upon arrival, regardless of symptoms, using non-contact temperature control or thermometers with disposable covers, and record the result in the patient report.
  • Space appointments to minimize patient-to-patient contact and the number of people in the office at any given time. If feasible and consistent with social distancing, patients should remain in their cars or outside the facility until they can be seen, or wait in separate rooms to minimize contact with other patients.