The Department of Defense issued a memo directing all military health institutions to suspend elective surgery and procedures in an effort to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic currently rattling the country.
“As the Military Health System prepares for a surge in demand for health care services related to COVID-19, it is essential that we take prompt action, informed by location conditions and your risk-benefit analysis,” the memo (pdf) reads.
The measure entails the suspending of all elective surgical operations, invasive procedures, and dental procedures performed by all associated military health facilities. It concerns all eligible beneficiaries of Military Medical Treatment Facilities (MTFs) and Dental Treatment Facilities (DTFs) including Active Duty Service Members, their family members, retirees, and their family members. It will take effect on March 31 and will last for 60 days.
In the Executive Order on Prioritizing and Allocating Health and Medical Resources of March 18, President Donald Trump stated: “To ensure that our healthcare system is able to surge capacity and capability to respond to the spread of COVID-19, it is critical that all health and medical resources needed to respond to the spread of COVID-19 are properly distributed to the Nation’s healthcare system and others that need them most at this time.”
“This action aligns with actions being taken across the nation to conserve vital health care resources during this public health emergency, including bed space, personal protective equipment, supplies, and medical personnel,” Assistant Secretary of Defense Tom McCaffrey wrote in the memo. “This policy also protects patients, medical personnel and the community from further exposure and transmission of COVID-19.”
NTD refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
Elective surgical procedures and invasive procedures include laser surgery, hernia repairs, non-emergency back surgery, joint replacements, and colonoscopies. The halt also include aerosol-producing treatments like endoscopies, bronchoscopies, pulmonary function tests and sleep continuous positive airway pressure titrations, the memo said.
Patients already scheduled for treatment will be reached out to by email or otherwise and will see their procedures postponed.
Exceptions to the rule are situations whereby the procedure is required to maintain the deployability and readiness of service members or when the medical expert finds that postponing the procedure would lead to deterioration of the patient’s condition.
The institutions will remain open to patients with urgent and non-elective procedures as well as for routine check-ups whenever the institution’s capacity and time schedule allow.