Governor Kate Brown directed all Oregon hospitals, outpatient clinics, and health care providers, including veterinarians and dentists, to cease all non-emergency procedures, in order to preserve personal protective equipment (PPE), such as surgical masks, gowns, and gloves, for health care workers treating COVID-19 patients.
What does this mean for veterinary practices?
Stop any elective surgical procedures that use PPE, which is exam gloves, sterile gloves, masks, gowns, or any other barrier used in medical practice. This order currently is issued through June 15th.
The definition of “elective” can vary according to client and practitioner but, in general, elective surgeries include spays and neuters, dental cleanings, and any other care that could be deferred without causing pain or suffering to our patients. Medical problems that cause patient discomfort that can only alleviated by a procedure needing PPE are not “elective.”
Patient care, including examinations and vaccinations, can continue as they do not require PPE but practitioners should use discretion regarding unnecessary clinic traffic and interpersonal contact due to the mandate of social distancing. Read information and guidelines on this.
Non-Emergency Surgical Procedures
By Executive Order 20-10, Governor Brown has directed veterinary hospitals to cease all elective and non-urgent procedures that utilize Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), in an effort to preserve PPE supplies for COVID-19 response. By March 23, veterinary practices are to stop performing any elective and non-urgent procedures to preserve PPE equipment. Those procedures may be rescheduled to occur not before June 15, but keep in mind they may need to be rescheduled again if her order remains in place at that time. The definition of “elective” can vary according to client and practitioner but, in general, elective surgeries include spays and neuters, dental cleanings, and any other care that could be deferred without causing pain or suffering to our patients. Medical problems that can only alleviated by a procedure needing PPE are not “elective.”
The specific language of the order defining the affected procedures follows: “A procedure or surgery is exempt from the limitations of set forth in paragraph 1(a) of this Executive Order if a three-month delay in the procedure or surgery would put the patient at risk of irreversible harms. Criteria for determining whether irreversible harm exists include but are not limited to:
- (1) threat to the patient’s life;
- (2) threat of irreversible harm to the patient’s physical or mental health;
- (3) threat of permanent dysfunction of an extremity or organ system;
- (4) risk of metastasis or progression of staging; and
- (5) risk of rapidly worsening to severe symptoms (time sensitive).”
Gov. Brown has asked veterinarians to donate surplus PPE to the human health effort. Per EO 20-10, veterinarians shall assess their stock of PPE by March 27 and then donate surplus, if any. As we had already been asked by the Governor’s office to seek PPE donations from the veterinary community, we are seeking further clarification of this process and will advise the membership once we have it.
Non-Surgical Patient Care
Non-surgical patient care, such as examinations and vaccinations, can continue as it does not require PPE.
It’s important to remember that veterinarians will not necessarily be allocated any additional PPE in the near future so your current inventory may be all that is available to you for now. Read about conservation and re-use strategies.
Full Governor’s Order