RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper on April 8 took action 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 child care services for workers responding to the crisis.
“In a time of emergency we need to make it easier for hospitals to free up bed space and hire more medical staff and this order does that,” Cooper said.
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 NCDHHS secretary the authority to do that during the emergency,” the governor’s office stated. “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,” Cooper said in a statement. “If we do this work well, along with social distancing, our hospitals can handle the hardships of this pandemic.”
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.
The order allows child care 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 caregivers.
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.
Read a summary of the order at https://tinyurl.com/tt9wkmh.