RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Elective surgeries and a visit to the dentist can resume Friday.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said the state is ready to get those businesses back up and running. Starting May 1, a ban on elective surgeries in the state and limitations on dentists will be lifted.
With personal protective equipment shortage fears over, medical and dental offices across the commonwealth are preparing for patients at the end of the week.
"Our hospitals, our clinics, our dental offices, these are safe, these are clean places to go and so while we have been through this pandemic I want to encourage all Virginians that your health care is important," said Northam.
But there are major changes to how those types of non-emergency medical procedures are carried out. Virginia Commonwealth University and other facilities say all patients undergoing surgery will be tested for COVID-19. VCU said in a statement after the announcement, “We are ready to serve you safely.”
“We have worked through the many challenges associated with this pandemic from access to testing and personal protective equipment to ensuring adequate treatment capacity and many other issues,” said Dr. Michael McDermott President & CEO Mary Washington Healthcare
You can also expect to wear a face mask during the visit, staggered appointments and changes to the waiting areas at these facilities.
“We all recognized the longer dental practices remain closed to preventative and non-emergent treatment the more likely our patients’ dental diseases will progress increasing the complexity and cost of treatment," said Dr. Elizabeth Reynolds, Richmond Family and Cosmetic Density.
Dr. Neil Zemmel, a plastic surgeon, is ready to get back to business as requests for service have continued to come in. They’re calling trying to get into the see the plastic surgeon for a number of services including, “breast augmentation, breast lifting, face lifting, tummy tucks, liposuction.”
Dr. Zemmel’s office has been closed for about six weeks and will be opening up with some new guidelines.
"There will be only one patient in the office at a time,” Zemmel said.
At his practice, staff and patients will also be wearing masks. The number of patients scheduled for the day will limited as well.
“Patients who are going to come in will wait in their car. We’ll call them in so there’s no cross-traffic in the waiting room,” Zemmel said.
Patients may have had to wait to go under the knife but Zemmel says it was worth the wait.
"I think that is the single most important factor that has flattened the curve and slowed the pandemic,” he said.
Zemmel has been performing virtual consultations during the lockdown, but he’ll get back to surgery next week.
On May 8, the governor’s order keeping non-essential businesses closed is set to expire. Northam said he’s looking at COVID-19 case trends and not a single day of data. That means we could still hit the May 8 target. But testing is key and Virginia still ranks close to the bottom, among the states, when it comes to testing per capita.
“Nothing’s set in stone but we’re really focusing on the trends,” said Northam.
Northam promised more answers about testing at Friday’s briefing
The Virginia Department of Health is also changing how it reports coronavirus case data. It will now be done on a zip code basis.
Copyright 2020 WWBT. All rights reserved.