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Senator calls on Gov. Inslee for clarification on medical, dental procedures order

Governor Inslee’s order halting non-urgent medical and dental procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic puts the brakes on joint replacements, cosmetic surgery, and other elective operations so that pieces of personal protective equipment can be reserved for doctors treating coronavirus patients.

But exactly what can a person go see the doctor or dentist for? And how much pain does a person have to be in to be considered an emergency?

These are the questions that Sen. Randi Becker (R-Eatonville) says she and her constituents are confused about — and she wants answers from the governor.

“I myself went to a primary care doctor … she could not refer me to a specialist to diagnose and treat my condition,” Becker said. “And while it’s nothing serious, it is something that is very painful.”

Gov. Inslee warns against ending social distancing too early

While the governor’s order specifically bans elective surgeries and procedures, Becker said that many primary care and dental clinics have shut down entirely, believing that they are not allowed to conduct routine appointments.

However, Becker said, it is these regular checkups that can detect serious, fatal conditions. If a person finds a lump or a mole that seems out of place, they may not be able to play it safe and go see their doctor.

“It’s unbelievably dangerous in my mind … with breast cancer, for example, an early diagnosis is life-saving,” she said.

Becker herself used to work in a health care clinic, and she remembers how a simple ailment could sometimes be a sign of something much larger.

“A woman came into the walk-in clinic where I started with a sudden on-set headache — she sat in the waiting room for about 10 minutes, the doctor saw her, and they called the ambulance and rushed her to the hospital … because she had an aneurysm,” she said. “These are the things that can happen so quickly and a life can be lost — and that’s not what we’re about in Washington state.”

She has heard from many constituents that they are not able to see their doctors when they try to make an appointment. Becker finds this irresponsible in a state famous for its world-class medical treatments.

“We’re top in the nation in so much in what we provide in health care,” she said. “And this seems to be not at all providing health care.”

Becker has sent a formal letter to Governor Inslee’s office, and hopes he will respond with a clarification that reminds clinics they are allowed to stay open — it is just elective procedures that must be stopped.

“I am not being political when I say this,” she said. “It has nothing to do with politics; it has everything to do with the patient.”

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