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Michigan Governor Issues Orders Allowing Non-Essential Medical and Dental Procedures to Resume and Establishing New Workplace Standards

May 28, 2020

Last week, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer released Executive Orders 2020-96 and 2020-97 which, among other things, rescind as of May 28, 2020 at 11:59 pm the Governor’s previous Executive Order which temporarily halted non-essential medical and dental procedures, and create new workplace standards for outpatient healthcare facilities.

Non-Essential Medical and Dental Procedures

Effective Friday, May 29, 2020, health care providers may resume non-essential medical and dental procedures postponed due to the previous Executive OrderIn issuing the rescission of the previous Order, the Governor cited improved health care capacity in terms of personal protective equipment, available beds, personnel, ventilators, and necessary supplies.

New Workplace Standards for Outpatient Healthcare Facilities

Although non-essential medical and dental procedures may resume, under Executive Order 2020-97, outpatient healthcare facilities—including clinics, physician offices, and dental offices—must comply with new workplace standards.  These new standards are not optional—they have the force and effect of regulations.  Further, Executive Order 2020-97 provides that any facility that violates these rules “has failed to provide a place of employment that is free from recognized hazards that are causing, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to an employee, within the meaning of the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act, MCL 408.1011.”

The new standards are listed below in their entirety.  They will require careful planning to implement, may be costly to operationalize, and must be monitored to ensure ongoing compliance.  In addition, implementing some of these standards may require considerable lead time to locate vendors and negotiate contracts for products or services that will enable facilities to comply with these standards.  Other standards (e.g., contactless sign-in and a common screening protocol) may require changes to a facility’s EMR system.

Notably, one standard is that providers must still utilize telehealth to the greatest extent possible.  The standards below related to social distancing may otherwise limit the number of patients a facility is able to see in person.  Finally, these new standards are in addition to the standards set forth in Order 2020-97 that are applicable to all businesses. 

  1. Post signs at entrance(s) instructing patients to wear a face covering when inside.
  2. Limit waiting-area occupancy to the number of individuals who can be present while staying six feet away from one another and ask patients, if possible, to wait in cars for their appointment to be called.
  3. Mark waiting rooms to enable six feet of social distancing (e.g., by placing X’s on the ground and/or removing seats in the waiting room).
  4. Enable contactless sign-in (e.g., sign in on phone app) as soon as practicable.
  5. Add special hours for highly vulnerable patients, including the elderly and those with chronic conditions.
  6. Conduct a common screening protocol for all patients, including a temperature check and questions about COVID-19 symptoms.
  7. Place hand sanitizer and face coverings at patient entrance(s).
  8. Require employees to make proper use of personal protective equipment in accordance with guidance from the CDC and the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration.
  9. Require patients to wear a face covering when in the facility, except as necessary for identification or to facilitate an examination or procedure.
  10. Install physical barriers at sign-in, temperature screening, or other service points that normally require personal interaction (e.g., plexiglass, cardboard, tables).
  11. Employ telehealth and telemedicine to the greatest extent possible.
  12. Limit the number of appointments to maintain social distancing and allow adequate time between appointments for cleaning.
  13. Employ specialized procedures for patients with high temperatures or respiratory symptoms (e.g., special entrances, having them wait in their car) to avoid exposing other patients in the waiting room.
  14. Deep clean examination rooms after patients with respiratory symptoms and clean rooms between all patients.
  15. Establish procedures for building disinfection in accordance with CDC guidance if it is suspected that an employee or patient has COVID-19 or if there is a confirmed case.

If you have questions regarding these Executive Orders, please contact your relationship attorney at Honigman.