On March 4, Lee issued an executive order to call for all elective and nonemergency procedures be delayed to help reduce the spread of coronavirus and preserve hospital capacity and personal protective equipment in the event of a surge in critical cases.
“We feel it’s important to get hospitals back online with elective procedures so Tennesseans can safely resume more routine services including scheduling quality of life procedures, procedures like routine screenings and joint replacements are included in this first wave,” Lee said.
Wendy Long, Tennessee Hospital Association president and CEO, said state health care officials are working to balance allowing some procedures with ensuring the move does not result in a large spike in cases.
“I think it’s important to reiterate that we’re having these conversations because the efforts to flatten the curve are working,” Long said. “Hospitals and health care workers are incredibly grateful for all the difficult steps and decisions that our great leaders have made as well as those that families and individuals are making every day to help bend the curve and ensure that our health care system does not become overwhelmed to the detriment of us all.”
Long said the state’s hospitals have been focused mainly on emergency and coronavirus cases, which has prevented them from doing procedures that bring in revenue.
“Hospitals have been in resource conservation mode since the beginning of this crisis in order to ensure that there are enough beds, ventilators, staff and personal protective equipment in order to be able to address a surge in patients,” Long said. “These efforts have come at great financial cost to hospitals, and we know that many patients have been negatively impacted as well as they anxiously await procedures and care that have been delayed due to the crisis.”
Long said hospitals must continue reporting capacity and active coronavirus cases as well as ongoing screening for health care workers and patients.
Additionally, Lee announced during the same press conference he will have updates on when gyms and places of worship might reopen later this week.