The Ambulatory Surgery Center Association urged ASCs to remain open for elective urgent surgeries and provided safety guidelines as a growing number of COVID-19 cases are reported in the U.S.
With 4,138 cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. and 71 deaths as of March 16, the consensus among ASC experts is that "ASCs can continue to provide safe surgical care for patients whose conditions cannot wait until the healthcare system returns to normal operations," ASCA CEO William Prentice and President Larry Taylor said in a joint statement.
The organization advised ASCs to reassess and reprioritize all currently scheduled cases based on medical and social risk factors, including the area's current and projected COVID-19 cases. This is only recommended when changes won't result in "significant medical deterioration or materially impact the patient's prognosis, morbidity or treatment plan."
Other guidelines include rigorously screening ASC patients and visitors before entrance; adhering to social distancing recommendations; implementing enhanced cleaning protocols per CDC guidelines; and giving hospitals priority for needed equipment and supplies.
Additionally, ASCs are encouraged to coordinate necessary care for communities through collaboration with local hospitals and health systems.
ASCA released the following statement: "ASCs can serve as alternative settings that provide surgical care for those patients who would suffer from a delay, while allowing our local hospital partners to create the incremental capacity needed during these dynamic times. As the pandemic progresses, we will continue to assess our approach, in coordination with experts throughout the healthcare system, to best serve the needs of patients and communities."
ASCA plans to continue publishing resources and recommendations for managing COVID-19. Those can be found here.