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Dear Editor

As the presence of the COVID-19 virus became a daily reality for all Georgians, our state’s hospitals took the voluntary step to temporarily halt all non-emergent, non-COVID-19 care. This drastic measure was necessary at the time in order to ensure there was sufficient bed capacity and enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for a potential surge of COVID-19 patients.

Encouragingly, the number of documented COVID-19 cases in Georgia have begun to plateau, and in some cases, decline. Around the state, elected leaders and business stakeholders are carefully weighing how to re-open their communities. Georgia’s hospitals are also prepared to open their doors for treating patients whose health and quality of life depend on receiving timely treatment through elective and medically necessary procedures, including cancer care, orthopedic surgeries and other critical treatments.

Georgia’s hospitals have been a reliable and safe source of care for their communities. The current COVID-19 pandemic is no different. While these are unprecedented times in health care and our country, hospitals are ready and able to treat patients who need medically necessary care that should not be delayed any longer. For their safety and health, as well as the safety and health of others, Georgians should not postpone care due to fear of the COVID-19 virus. Hospitals are taking every precaution to keep patients, staff, and everyone in their facilities safe. Hospital employees are extremely diligent about practicing rigorous infection controls and following updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Georgia Department of Public Health. Screenings, visitor restrictions, and proper isolation of patients infected with COVID-19 ensure the health and safety of all individuals in these facilities. For surgical procedures in particular, hospitals are following expert guidelines for safely resuming elective surgeries from the American Hospital Association (AHA), the American College of Surgeons (ACS), the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), and the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN).

No matter the type of care needed, hospitals are ready to resume treatment for every patient for all their needs to ensure optimal wellness for their communities. The COVID-19 situation in every community is different, but we have seen one constant: The outpouring of support from volunteers, businesses and friends of the hospital community has been second to none. As always, your hospitals are here to support you, and they are open and safe for serving all the health care needs of their communities.

Earl V. Rogers

President and CEO Georgia Hospital Association