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On Infection Prevention & Control

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Using Ambulatory Surgery Centers as Alternate Care Sites


Robert Campbell, PharmD, director, clinical standards interpretation for hospital/ambulatory programs

Editor’s Note: This blog post is part of The Joint Commission’s daily communication on issues relevant to organizations managing the COVID-19 pandemic. The full list of FAQs is available here.

During a declared disaster when the demand for inpatient care is high, can hospitals use ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) as alternative sites for providing inpatient care?

While there are no specific Joint Commission standards that address using ASCs as alternate care sites, on April 3, 2020 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a memorandum from its Quality, Safety & Oversight Group (QSO) that provides Guidance for Processing Attestation Statements from Ambulatory Surgical Centers (ASCs) Temporarily Enrolling as Hospitals during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

Organizations choosing this option should notify their account executive of this change to keep us informed of your status and the impact of the COVID-19 situation. Choosing this option will NOT result in an extension survey.  Please continue to work closely with your local, state and federal agencies to help manage the demand for additional resources. 

Organizations that use Joint Commission accreditation for deemed status purposes should monitor the CMS website as waivers are being approved frequently and may include state-specific waivers. Click here to access the CMS website for COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for Health Care Providers.

After the state of emergency ends (national, federal or local level depending upon which allows the most time to address), organizations have 60 days to return to full compliance as an ASC and to notify your account executive that operations have returned to normal. 

Robert Campbell, PharmD, is director, Clinical Standards Interpretation Hospital/Ambulatory Programs and director, Medication Management. Prior to these roles, he served as the pharmacist for Clinical Standards Interpretation in the Division of Healthcare Improvement at The Joint Commission. Campbell also surveys as a field representative for The Joint Commission in the Hospital Accreditation and Critical Access Hospital Accreditation Programs and is a reviewer in the Medication Compounding Certification Program. Prior to joining The Joint Commission, Campbell worked in health care organizations and held leadership positions with oversight responsibilities for performance improvement, accreditation readiness, risk management, infection control and medical staff services, as well as inpatient and outpatient pharmacy services.