RALEIGH – Governor Roy Cooper took action Wednesday to provide more access to health care beds and get more medical workers to respond to the rising demand due the COVID-19 pandemic. He signed Executive Order No. 130, which expands the pool of health care workers and orders essential childcare services for workers responding to the crisis.
The Order temporarily puts measures in place for licensing, Certificates of Need, and other regulations. The public health crisis needs to scale up services and staff and the Order gives the NC DHHS Secretary the authority to do that during the emergency. Once the crisis has passed, the rules will be put back into place.
“We have never faced emergency demand for health care like we do today, and we must act now,” added Governor Cooper. “If we do this work well, along with social distancing, our hospitals can handle the hardships of this pandemic.”
EXPANDING SERVICES, BEDS STATEWIDE
The Order offers flexibility using and moving resources, such as beds, dialysis stations, CT and MRI scanners. It means hospitals can more quickly increase the number of beds to take critically ill patients and allow an ambulatory surgical facility to operate as a temporary hospital.
Though the Order loosens regulations, expanding beds and services will still require the NCDHHS, Division of Health Service Regulation to approve written requests that explain how increase in capacity, relocation or addition of resources, equipment acquisition, or change in facility operation addresses public health needs and related safety measures.
EMERGENCY CHILD CARE SERVICES
The Order allows childcare facilities to remain open or to reopen to care for children of essential business workers, children who are receiving child welfare services, or children who are homeless or living in unstable or unsafe living arrangements.
The Order requires the facilities to apply for approval and to follow the NCDHHS Emergency Facility Guidelines, but also provides flexibility in activities and continuing education requirements for care givers.
EXPANDING POOL OF HEALTH CARE WORKERS AND ACCESS TO TELEHEALTH
The Order will allow out of state licensed workers to practice in North Carolina during the emergency, and may allow retired health care professionals, students training for health care jobs and unlicensed, skilled volunteers to provide care.
Expanded telehealth services and flexibility for in-home care are also included in the Order.