BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday the Maryland Department of Health will immediately issue guidelines to allow for elective medical procedures at the discretion of local hospitals and health care providers.
"A classic thing would be, you know, a hip replacement," Dr. Matthew Poffenroth, Chief Clinical Officer at LifeBridge Health, said. "You know it's painful but it's not an emergency. So those have been put off. We'll now be able to do things like that."
Everything from heart catheterizations, to GI procedures and even plastic surgery can now resume. But patients will be prioritized.
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"Somebody that's been waiting to have suspicious mass removed that could be a cancer would certainly be prioritized above somebody that needs a routine screening," Poffenroth said.
But the pandemic has changed the way things work in healthcare.
Doctors will be taking in fewer patients than normal so they can continue to practice social distancing. They are also limited by the availability of supplies like N-95 masks and certain drugs and anesthetics.
"It's not like we're going from ah right back to how things were three months ago," Poffenroth said. "This is going to have to be phased in."
Dentists can now start taking in more patients, too.
"Up until yesterday, we were only seeing emergency patients which was basically swelling... pain that kept patients up at night," Dr. Joanne Block Rief said.
To get dental work done, masks will have to be removed, so they're taking plenty of precautions, like at Crossroads Dental Arts in Owings Mills.
"They'll be wearing protective shields with masks underneath," Block Rief said. "We've also put up sneeze guards at the reception area."
Dental cleanings can start again, but they'll likely come after more involved procedures.
"Could be a week or two or three where we'll be doing less procedures because it's going to take us more time," Block Rief added.
Officials want to remind patients that it might take longer than normal to get these procedures done.
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