Rochester hospitals pause, limit elective, semi-elective surgeries due to COVID-19 spike


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The area’s two biggest health care systems will temporarily pause and limit certain elective and semi-elective surgeries, as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to spike across the region.

University of Rochester Medical Center’s pause began Monday and applies to all elective and semi-elective surgeries requiring inpatient hospital stays. Officials said this pause will last three weeks and then the policy will be reassessed based on current conditiosn.

Outpatient procedures will not be affected. UR Medicine defines elective and semi-elective surgeries as “those that can be delayed three months or longer without undue risk of harm to the patient, based on a review by teams of surgeons and other medical professionals.”

Patients who are impacted by the pause will be contacted, officials said.

According to a statement from UR Medicine, the pause will help the health care system maintain capacity in light of rising COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Similarly, Rochester Regional Health is joining UR Medicine in limiting non-essential surgical procedures due to a rise in local COVID-19 hospitalizations. The hospital system released a statement Tuesday saying inpatient elective surgeries will be postponed at Rochester General, Unity, and Newark-Wayne hospitals beginning Thursday, December 9. A statement from RRH officials Tuesday said in part:

“Rochester Regional Health will postpone all non-essential elective inpatient, 23 hour and same day elective hospital surgeries and procedures for at least two weeks at Rochester General Hospital and Unity Hospital, effective Thursday, December 9. This non-essential inpatient elective surgery postponement at Rochester General and Unity is in compliance with newly released guidance from the NYS DOH. Newark-Wayne Community Hospital is not on the NYS DOH “impacted facility” list; however, Rochester Regional has proactively decided to suspend inpatient elective surgeries there this week. At this time, Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic, United Memorial Medical Center, office-based procedures and ambulatory surgery centers are not impacted. We are actively communicating with impacted patients and hope to resume inpatient surgeries at Rochester General and Unity as soon as it’s possible. As the area enters the third wave of this pandemic, Rochester Regional remains deeply committed to caring for the community. Patients should not delay necessary care at this time.”

Monroe County declared a state of emergency Tuesday due to a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Read the full statement from UR Medicine

UR Medicine hospitals will implement a three-week pause on elective and semi-elective surgical procedures that require inpatient hospital stays, beginning Dec. 6. Outpatient procedures will continue at hospitals and surgery centers throughout the system.

The pause on elective inpatient surgeries will help UR Medicine maintain capacity for acute-care patients as COVID hospitalizations increase in the Finger Lakes region. This is in keeping with Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Nov. 26 executive order requiring hospitals with less than 10 percent inpatient bed capacity to postpone non-emergency procedures.

Elective and semi-elective cases are those that can be delayed three months or longer without undue risk of harm to the patient, based on a review by teams of surgeons and other medical professionals. The pause affects only procedures that would require post-operative inpatient care in the hospital. Most UR Medicine hospitals already had postponed many of these elective inpatient cases in recent weeks, so relatively few scheduled surgeries will be delayed. Patients will be contacted directly if their case must be postponed; they do not need to contact their surgeon’s office.

UR Medicine, along with other health systems, have implemented temporary pauses on elective procedures earlier in the pandemic to ensure the community has immediate access to critical care.

Two key factors contribute to the current capacity challenge:

  • High numbers of COVID patients in inpatient and ICU beds – as of Nov. 30, 110 active cases at Strong Memorial, and 254 across the six-hospital UR Medicine system.
  • Inability to discharge “alternative level of care” patients, who no longer need inpatient care, to nursing homes because those facilities lack adequate staff – as of Nov. 30, 44 ALC patients at Strong Memorial, and 98 across the system.

UR Medicine hospitals will resume full surgery schedules as soon as conditions and available resources allow.

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