Kentucky’s Timeline for Resuming Healthcare Services

By: Tricia A. Shackelford, Esq., Williams Kilpatrick, PLLC

In response to the COVID-19 health crisis, Kentucky placed a moratorium on all non-essential health care services, such as elective surgeries, dental services, physical therapy, and chiropractic services.  Beginning on April 27, 2020 and continuing through May 27, 2020, Kentucky will implement a phased reopening of its health care facilities and providers.

The 4-Phase Plan, issued by the Kentucky Department of Public Health (“KDPH”), includes detailed guidelines for Plan implementation, to include: (i) implementing enhanced sanitizing and disinfecting procedures, (ii) implementing rigorous screening for fever and other COVID-19 symptoms before entering healthcare facilities, (iii) using of telehealth technology when possible, (iv) obtaining appropriate personal protective equipment (“PPE”), (v) using appropriate PPE for all person-to-person encounters, and (vi) restricting visitation for in-patients other than patients at end-of-life or sensitive patients such as children.

The KDPH Phases are:

COVID-19 Healthcare Reopening Plan Phase 1

On April 27, 2020, non-emergent and non-urgent outpatient services will resume.  Non-emergent and non-urgent outpatient services, including chiropractic services, physical therapy services, and “high-aerosol” healthcare services (dental offices, oral surgery, anesthesia, and pulmonary).  Providers must wear appropriate PPE and providers in high-aerosol settings must employ enhanced aerosol mitigation advised by each prospective professional association.

COVID-19 Healthcare Reopening Plan Phase 2

On May 6, 2020, outpatient and ambulatory surgeries and invasive procedures will resume.  During Phase 2, providers must perform pre-procedure COVID-19 testing governed by professional association and KDPH guidelines.  Facilities must maintain a 14-day supply of PPE, as determined by the facility’s use rate. Facilities must also adhere to strict prioritization guidelines, which will govern the types of procedures performed and the timing of those procedures.  Acute care hospitals are required to maintain at least a 30% bed capacity as governed by the facility surge plan.

COVID-19 Healthcare Reopening Plan Phase 3

On May 13, 2020, facilities will begin to phase in non-emergent and non-urgent inpatient surgical services.  Inpatient surgeries may resume at a rate of no more than 50% of the pre-COVID-19 surgical volume.  Providers will be required to perform pre-procedure COVID-19 testing, maintain a 14-day supply of necessary PPE, and prioritize cases based on procedure type and timing.  The requirement that acute care hospitals maintain at least a 30% bed capacity will continue through Phase 3.

COVID-19 Healthcare Reopening Plan Phase 4

On May 27, 2020, the fourth and final phase of healthcare reopening begins. In Phase 4, the 50% pre-COVID-19 volume requirement set in Phase 3 is relaxed.  Facilities will be given the discretion to determine an appropriate facility volume.  Providers will continue to be required to perform pre-procedure COVID-19 testing, maintain a 14-day supply of necessary PPE, and prioritize cases based on procedure type and timing.  The requirement that acute care hospitals maintain at least a 30% bed capacity will also continue through Phase 4.

Bear in mind that the foregoing requirements may change as the number of COVID-19 cases rises and falls.  Providers need to be mindful of these requirements and adopt appropriate protocols, policies, and procedures that incorporate applicable professional guidelines and employee training.

If you have questions or would like additional information, please contact Tricia Shackelford at (859) 629-3302 or tshackelford@wktlaw.com.