Whitmer orders postponement of nonessential surgeries, dental work

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has halted all nonessential medical and dental procedures to free up hospitals and healthcare facilities to treat the growing number of COVID-19 patients needing emergent care. 

The executive order issued Friday encompasses freestanding surgical outpatient facilities, state outpatient facilities, hospitals and dental facilities through the end of the coronavirus state of emergency, Whitmer said in a statement. 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order on Friday (March 20, 2020) postponing all nonessential medical and dental procedures in the state to reduce the strain on the health care system from COVID-19.

The executive order will help to “flatten the curve” so patient demand does not spike above what medical resources are able to handle, Whitmer said. 

“Our health care workers are on the front lines every day protecting Michiganders during these extraordinary and difficult times,” the governor said. “By postponing all non-essential medical and dental procedures, we expect to reduce the strain on the health care system and protect people."

The surgeries that must be postponed include cosmetic surgery, bariatric surgery, joint replacement. The order exempts procedures related to cardiovascular disease, oncology, pregnancy, dialysis and organ transplants. 

“Additionally, these facilities must exclude from postponement emergency or trauma-related procedures where postponement would significantly impact the health, safety, and welfare of the patient,” the state said in a statement. 

In terms of dental work, facilities must postpone orthodontic procedures, routine hygiene appointments, and cosmetic dentistry procedures such as veneers, cosmetic bonding and teeth bleaching. Excluded from that dental work are any procedures that could relieve pain, infection or oral function.