ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — On Thursday, Gov. Kathy Hochul ended a mandate pausing elective surgeries in New York. The decision came as COVID cases continue to drop regionwide.
The current stressors hospitals face—staffing shortages, capacity concerns, and COVID cases—trickle down to local operating rooms. Some hospitals in the state said the move by Hochul could raise demand after many procedures were delayed during the omicron surge.
Dr. Matthew Miller, Senior Director of Perioperative Services at University of Rochester Medical Center, said they’ve been able to keep up with surgeries for life or death situations. But elective procedures have been on a backlog since the start of the pandemic. “The stress is the uncertainty,” he said. “For the patients who would like some more concrete answers, rather than, ‘We think we’ll be able to do it in a few weeks but we don’t know anything can happen.'”
It’s the same situation for UR Thompson Health in Canandaigua. CEO Michael F. Stapleton Jr. said they’ve been maintaining life-or-death surgeries well. But elective surgeries, are on a backlog. “Optical surgeries, eye surgeries, cataract surgeries are on a huge backlog,” Stapleton said.
Stapleton said they lifted a pause on elective surgeries a few weeks ago, and have five out of six operating rooms up and running again. But when it comes to getting enough beds and staff, they’re still working on it. “We need to build that back,” he said. “Still have a lot of patients in hospital beds who don’t need to be, they need to be in a nursing home but there’s not enough nursing home capacity in our region, so that backs us up.”
Both doctors say there’s no telling when things will feel normal again, but they’re asking the public to not delay getting the help you need. They say the care is there, and there is hope about the days ahead.
“We’re still delivering very high level of care,” Stapleton said.
“We have been creating access to every surgery that needs to happen now we have been creative in expanding our access,” Dr. Miller said.