Niagara County is in, Erie County is out right now
In a press conference Tuesday morning at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Institute in Buffalo, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced elective outpatient treatments can resume in counties and hospitals without significant risk of COVID-19 surge in the near term.
Hospitals will be able to resume performing elective outpatient treatments on April 28, if the hospital capacity is over 25% for the county, and if there have been fewer than 10 new hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in the county over the past 10 days.
If a hospital is located in a county eligible to resume elective outpatient treatments, but that hospital has a capacity under 25% or has had more than 10 new hospitalizations in the past 10 days, that hospital is not eligible to resume elective surgeries.
If a county or hospital that has resumed elective surgery experiences a decrease in hospital capacity below the 25% threshold, or an increase of 10 or more new hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients, elective surgeries must cease. Further, patients must test negative for COVID-19 prior to any elective outpatient treatment.
The State Department of Health will issue guidance on resuming elective surgeries.
Restrictions on elective surgery will remain in place in Bronx, Queens, Rockland, Nassau, Clinton, Yates, Westchester, Albany, Richmond, Schuyler, Kings, Suffolk, New York, Dutchess, Sullivan, Ulster, Erie, Orange and Rensselaer counties, as the state continues to monitor the rate of new COVID-19 infections in the region.
In her LCTV community update Tuesday afternoon, Niagara County Legislature Chairwoman Becky Wydysh said, “We had been looking for clarification on Niagara County, specifically, which he did not mention on his briefing. But just prior to going live this afternoon, we did receive word from Eastern Niagara Hospital that they were able to confirm with the State Department of Health that Niagara County would be allowed to resume those elective and outpatient surgeries – and we do have a statement from them, which I'd like to read at this time. It states, ‘In follow-up to the governor's announcement that elective surgeries will be resumed in Niagara County, Eastern Niagara Hospital is working on a plan to safely facilitate these procedures at its ambulatory surgery center and another separate area of the hospital. We are pleased the governor is taking this regional approach, and Eastern Niagara Hospital will be developing a comprehensive plan to care for patients, yet minimize risks to the greatest extent.’
“That is certainly good news to hear.”
Cuomo said, “You have many hospitals that are very quiet; some hospitals are actually laying off people, believe it or not, in the middle of this, because they have no patients. …
“We artificially stopped the number of patients coming to into a hospital, because we ended what's called an elective surgery, elective treatment, and therefore people can't go into the hospital for an elective procedure in those parts of the state and in those hospitals where the hospitals are laying off people because they're so quiet. And they have that capacity, and capacity for the virus is not an issue.
“We're going to allow elective outpatient treatment, which means the number of beds remain available, because the number of people using those beds is still relatively minimal; and we're going to allow it in those hospitals and counties in the state that do not have a COVID issue, or we wouldn't need their beds, in case of a search.”
Cuomo added, “As New York continues to flatten the curve of new COVID-19 infections, we are now ready to lift the restrictions on elective surgeries in regions where hospital capacity and the rate of new infections do not present a significant risk of a surge in new positive cases. It is essential that we continue to support hospitals and health care workers in all regions to ensure they have both capacity and supplies to treat COVID patients because this virus is by no means defeated."
Kaleida Health President and CEO Jody Lomeo said, “Gov. Cuomo is taking a proactive approach and outlining a process to safely open upstate New York. We applaud him for this and look forward to working with his team, Lt. Gov. (Kathy) Hochul and the State Department of Health, in the coming days and weeks. In particular, we are eager to learn more about the policy regarding safely resuming hospital operations, including elective surgeries.”