Hochul signs executive order allowing DOH to limit ‘non-essential, non-urgent procedures’

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Gov. Kathy Hochul Friday announced "urgent action" to address staffing shortages in hospitals as the state anticipates a surge in COVID-19 cases this winter.

Hochul signed an executive order allowing the New York State Department of Health (DOH) to limit non-essential, non-urgent procedures for in-hospitals or systems with limited capacity, which is defined as below 10% staffed bed capacity.

That definition could change if the DOH determines it’s necessary based on regional and health care utilization factors.

The new protocols will go into effect on Friday, Dec. 3 and will be re-assessed on Jan. 15 based on COVID-19 data.

It’s not yet clear to what degree local hospital systems will be impacted, though News10NBC has reported on the staffing shortages in local hospitals for months. The staffing was already extremely tight before New York State’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate went fully into effect Monday, with religious exemptions lifted.

As of Nov. 16, hospitals in the Finger Lakes had just 8% of staffed beds available.

Health systems in the area have already been flexing space and working with other hospitals to transfer patients they are unable to attend to.

Area health systems have already announced they are postponing non-essential surgeries.