State releases guidance for elective surgery pause at ‘limited capacity’ hospitals

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — While Gov. Kathy Hochul’s 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 went into effect Friday, that does not mean that hospital systems are limiting procedures yet.

The DOH told News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke Friday that determinations will be issued to facilities by Monday that will apply to procedures scheduled to occur on or after Thursday, Dec. 9. Hochul clarified Friday that she is not calling for a "blanket order" to pause elective surgeries.

The guidance released Friday says procedures to treat cancer, including diagnostic procedure of suspected cancer, neurosurgery, intractable pain, highly symptomatic patients, transplants, trauma, cardiac with symptoms, limb-threatening vascular procedures, dialysis vascular access and procedures for patients who are at a clinically high risk of harm if their procedures are not completed are considered essential.

UR Medicine did announce Thursday that it was implementing a three-week pause on "elective and semi-elective" surgeries that require a hospital stay beginning on Monday, but the hospital system was acting on its own accord.

Rochester Regional Health is also taking its own measures. It released the following statement on Friday:

“Rochester Regional Health is aware of the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) updates to limit non-essential elective procedures. RRH has already taken the active step of limiting inpatient elective surgeries at Rochester General, Unity, and Newark-Wayne Community hospitals beginning next week. Due to the newly released NYS DOH guidelines, further adjustments to surgical schedules may be required. We are actively communicating with our patients as the situation continues to evolve. The health of our patients continues to be a top priority.”

Hospitals that will be impacted are hospitals at 10% capacity or less. As of Friday, the DOH said there are 31 hospitals in “at-risk” regions that meet that threshold.

That includes Strong Memorial Hospital, Unity Hospital, Highland Hospital, F.F. Thompson Hospital, Geneva General Hospital and Wyoming County Community Hospital in the Finger Lakes and Erie County Medical Center in Western New York.

The DOH noted that the data could change by Monday.

The rest of the impacted hospitals as of Friday are listed below:

Capital Region:

  • Albany Medical Center Hospital
  • Glens Falls Hospital
  • Saratoga Hospital

Central New York:

  • Crouse Hospital
  • Guthrie Cortland Medical Center
  • Oneida Health Hospital
  • Oswego Hospital
  • University Hospital SUNY Health Science Center
  • UPSTATE University Hospital at Community General

Mohawk Valley:

  • A.O. Fox Memorial Hospital
  • Faxton-St Lukes Healthcare St Lukes Division
  • Little Falls Hospital
  • St Elizabeth Medical Center
  • St. Mary’s Healthcare

North Country:

  • Canton-Potsdam Hospital
  • Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center
  • The University of Vermont Health Network – Alice Hyde Medical Center
  • The University of Vermont Health Network – Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital
  • The University of Vermont Health Network – Elizabethtown Community Hospital

Western New York:

  • Brooks-TLC Hospital System, Inc.
  • Erie County Medical Center
  • Mercy Hospital of Buffalo
  • Mount St Marys Hospital and Health Center
  • Sisters of Charity Hospital
  • UPMC Chautauqua at WCA

The guidance issued to hospitals Friday is below (mobile users, click here):

Covid 19 Executive Order to Limit Non Essential Elective Procedures 12-3-21 by News10NBC on Scribd