When Will We Reopen?

April 20, 2020 By: Bob Atlas

This week the White House issued guidelines for “Opening Up America Again.” And Governor Hogan announced Maryland “is now in a position to plan the gradual rollout of the state’s recovery phase.” He laid out four building blocks: (1) Expanding testing capacity, (2) Increasing hospital surge capacity, (3) Ramping up supply of PPE, (4) Building a robust contact tracing operation.

I’ve heard from hospital leaders, asking what we in the Maryland hospital field will do to plan for resumption of normal operations. Of particular concern for many is the suspension of elective or non-urgent procedures, which is still required pursuant to an active executive order. Your stories are piling about patients’ conditions worsening due to postponements. And hospitals and physicians are suffering significant income losses. That isn’t sustainable.

On Friday, the American Hospital Association, along with three physician and nursing groups, issued a Roadmap for Resuming Elective Surgery after COVID-19 Pandemic . Very useful.

It’s a challenging subject to take up. COVID-19 caseloads continue to rise, averaging 6-7% daily on a statewide basis. Surge preparations remain intense. The state has finally received a good number of ventilators, which MHA is helping allocate to hospitals most in need. But the distribution of cases is uneven, leaving some hospitals with persistent excess capacity while others fill. Though, some hospitals that have filled report they’re now discharging about the same number of COVID-19 patients as they’re admitting. 

So, provided we all stay dedicated to meeting the expectations that public officials and the people of Maryland have placed on our hospitals, it is time to think about resuming something closer to normal operations. MHA staff are now outlining topics of most interest to hospitals. This coming week, we will ask some hospital leaders to join a work group to frame up an action plan for fieldwide consideration.

Thank you for all you’re doing to make Marylanders healthier, now and always.

Bob Atlas
President & CEO