Hospitals and health care facilities in Chautauqua County have been permitted to resume elective surgeries.
The decision, formally announced Wednesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, should come as good news to hospitals that have been forced to consider furloughing employees due to the lack of procedures that bring in steady revenue. In mid-March, Cuomo mandated that hospitals stop performing elective surgeries during the coronavirus pandemic as a means to preserve health care resources.
It’s not clear when area facilities will be allowed to start performing surgeries again, but local hospital officials stress patient safety remains a priority.
“It’s so important that we serve patients whose health care needs were disrupted in March and April,” said Brian Durniok, UPMC Chautauqua president. “We appreciate this step in the right direction to restore care with appropriate testing and safeguards and begin addressing the backlog of postponed, but medically essential, procedures.
“We can provide this care by testing. We are providing testing for patients coming in for a procedure for virus presence and continue to test any others, including health care workers who have symptoms.”
Earlier this month, Kaleida Health announced it was offering a temporary voluntary furlough program — part of a joint agreement with 1199SEIU and CWA1168, which represent more than 8,000 Kaleida Health employees.
“Like other health-care organizations across Western New York, New York state and the entire country, the pandemic has significantly impacted our bottom line,” said Jody Lomeo, president and chief executive officer of Kaleida Health.
In the Southern Tier, Olean General Hospital and Bradford Regional Medical Center reported losses of $2.7 million in March, with projected losses in April estimated at $6.8 million.
“(We) will continue to aggressively pursue grant and other funding sources to subsidize losses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jeff Zewe, Upper Allegheny Health System president and CEO.
“Given the overall financial needs of hospitals across the nation and the massive losses experienced by business and industry, it is unlikely we will get the relief at the level we need.”
Other counties permitted to perform elective surgeries include: Allegany, Broome, Chenango, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Genesee, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Livingston, Madison, Monroe, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, Orleans, Oswego, Putnam, Saratoga, Schoharie, Schuyler, St. Lawrence, Steuben, Sullivan, Tompkins, Ulster, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates.
“We have made tremendous progress to stop the spread of this infection, but we are not out of the woods yet and we need to proceed with caution as we begin our re-opening plan,” Cuomo said. “We know testing is key to re-opening New York – it is the indicator that will show if we are keeping the infection rate down throughout the re-opening process. We have been more aggressive than any state or nation in the world on testing and we are now halfway to our goal of doubling our testing capacity from 20,000 per day to 40,000 per day, but we still have more work to do.”
Cuomo said New York state is conducting an average of 30,000 diagnostic tests for COVID-19 per day. He said last week that the state will work with the federal government to double New York’s testing capacity from 20,000 tests per day to 40,000 tests per day over several weeks.
Meanwhile, a woman in her 60s recently tested positive for COVID-19, marking the 33rd confirmed case in Chautauqua County. The Department of Health and Human Services said four active cases remain in addition to 26 total recoveries, three deaths and 804 negative test results.
As of Wednesday afternoon, 48 county residents were either in quarantine or isolation.
In Cattaraugus County, 36 people have been confirmed to have COVID-19 in addition to 24 recoveries and 766 negative tests results. To date, 163 people were in mandatory quarantine.
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