Nonessential Healthcare Services Put on Hold Due to COVID-19 Now Authorized to Resume Beginning May 29

May 21, 2020—Beginning Friday, May 29, healthcare professionals in Michigan may resume providing nonessential healthcare services as outlined in Executive Order 2020-96. This order, issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on May 21, rescinds Executive Order 2020-17, which temporarily restricted care to that which was deemed “essential to life.”  

Under this new executive order, physicians and other healthcare professionals providing in-person care are required to practice social distancing and adopt other workplace safety rules mandated by Executive Order 2020-97, to protect their teams and patients.

Earlier in the week, Michigan Academy of Family Physicians joined our partners at the Michigan Association of Osteopathic Family Physicians, Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Michigan Section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and Michigan Psychiatric Soceity in urging Michiganders to not delay seeking necessary care.

Heart attacks, broken bones, and other medical emergencies requiring immediate attention are still happening every day. Children still need vaccinations to protect against life-threatening contagious illnesses like measles and whooping cough. Pregnant mothers still need prenatal care to protect their and their babies’ health. People suffering from depression and anxiety still need behavioral healthcare. Adults and children with diabetes and asthma still need help managing their chronic illnesses.

“These and other acute and chronic conditions haven’t disappeared because COVID-19 is here. Seeking necessary healthcare is just as important today as it was before,” said Keerthy Krishnamani, MD, MBA, a family physician at Henry Ford Health System and president of Michigan Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP).

This was echoed by Sharon Swindell, MD, FAAP, president of the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “Health is too important to avoid seeking care. People should call their primary care physician if they have a concern. Your doctor will help you determine if you need to be seen in person, or if you can be treated over the phone or by video. We are here to take care of you and your family, as always. How we do that just might look a little different than in the past."

Anyone experiencing life-threatening symptoms, such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, slurred speech, or abdominal pain, should call 9-1-1 or seek immediate care at the emergency room.

“Every minute counts when someone is experiencing a medical emergency,” said Dr. Swindell.

Care that should not be postponed includes:

  • Treatment for chronic conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, and kidney disease
  • Treatment for acute conditions, such as symptoms of heart attack and stroke
  • Treatment for severe injuries, such as broken bones and deep cuts
  • Mental health needs, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts
  • Pediatric immunizations that protect children from communicable diseases
  • Prenatal care for pregnant mothers

Should you require in-person care, you can be assured that primary care physician offices and hospitals have put even more stringent infection prevention and control measures in place to protect you and your family from COVID-19.

“Not seeking necessary healthcare out of fear of getting COVID-19 is actually more dangerous than the virus itself,” said Kristen Sumners, DO, president of the Michigan Association of Osteopathic Family Physicians and a family physician with Lakeshore Health Partners in Zeeland. “By adhering to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations, physicians’ offices and hospitals are safe places to be. We are continually sanitizing and disinfecting even the smallest surfaces, like doorknobs and light switches. Our healthcare teams wear personal protective equipment and require patients to wear masks as well. Staff and patients are screened for COVID-19. Patients no longer wait for their appointment in the waiting room and social distancing is practiced. The healthcare community is taking every step to protect the health and safety of patients and healthcare workers.”

Pointing to studies showing that individuals who have an ongoing relationship with a primary care physician have better health outcomes, longer lives, and lower healthcare costs than those who don’t, Dr. Krishnamani encourages all Michigan residents to establish and maintain a relationship with a primary care physician.

“Primary care doctors provide comprehensive, coordinated, continuous care. Because we really get to know our patients and their health histories over an extended period of time, this enduring relationship allows us to provide patient-centered care. This is even more important during a public health emergency like COVID-19,” he said.