As reported Friday, Gov. Ricketts has revised the Directed Health Measures (DHMs) that have been in effect in Nebraska, some of which were set to expire beginning April 29. And, CDC recommendations to postpone routine eye care have been lifted.
 
As currently understood, key implications for optometrists are that:
  • Restrictions are removed statewide on elective surgeries and procedures effective May 4;
  • Resuming routine optometric care is permissible provided it is in compliance with DHMs that continue to be in force for local/regional health departments through May 31. According to the governor’s news release, the State will have 19 separate DHMs in effect as of May 4, one for each local/regional health department.
 
Provisions of these DHMs vary and non-compliance with DHMs is a violation of the law, so ODs are strongly encouraged to check on specific requirements that may apply to your county. C ontact information for the state’s LHDs, along with a map of the LHDs is available here . Compliance questions can be directed to the local health departments.
 
As you decide your re-opening plan, the NOA Board would like to provide some guidance.
 
First and foremost, we acknowledge that this situation is changing both daily and regionally on a county by county and city by city basis. We are licensed medical professionals that are responsible for the health of our specific locations and decisions may need to be made independently of other regions, always in conjunction with local leaders and health directives. Here is a link to Directed Health Measures for each individual county .
 
For further guidance, please read the AOA’s recently released Optometry Practice Reactivation Preparedness Guide . It provides thorough direction to all optometrists as they prepare to reopen their practices. We encourage you to also reference the CMS recommendations for re-opening practices as well as OSHA guidelines  Additional resources can be found on the NOA COVID-19 webpage .
 
Additionally, the NOA would like to emphasize three important recommendations:
  1. Have a written plan for your practice. The documentation should include any changes that you will be making and protocols you will be initiating due to the coronavirus risk and should address protocols for patient safety as well as employee safety. It may also include contingency plans for exposure to staff, the doctor, or patients. We encourage you to document training you provide to your staff on these protocols.
  2. Keep up to date on specific COVID-19 Resources for health care providers and Directed Health Measures for each individual county that is provided by the Nebraska Health and Human Services.
  3. Mitigate risk of spread with the use of PPE, stringent disinfecting protocols, patient screening, and adequate patient spacing and timing.
 
Please continue to watch for updates from the State of Nebraska, NOA and AOA as you make decisions for your practice.