ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — During Wednesday’s daily briefing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that Monroe County was one of the eligible New York counties to resume elective surgeries.
The county has successfully flattened the curve, meaning the risk of a dramatic surge in COVID-19 patients needing hospital care is low. Both local hospital systems meet the governor’s criteria for bed capacity and are ready to make room if there is a surge of COVID-19 patients.
According to the chief medical officers at both the University of Rochester Medical Center and Rochester Regional Health, doctors will start calling patients as early as this week to reschedule elective surgeries. They said the most urgent ones will be prioritized.
“There’s a backlog of a lot of procedures and surgeries that need to be done and obviously we’re going to triage by the needs of the patient. So we’ll start with the most urgent procedures and move on from there,” said Dr. Michael Apostolakos, chief medical officer at URMC.
Patients should expect a call from their doctor to reschedule their surgery. Dr. Robert Mayo is the chief medical officer at Rochester Regional. He said they’ll be moving quickly to open up as much surgical capacity as possible.
“In the case of say, a cancer surgery, if they need subsequent radiation or chemotherapy, those cases we’ve been prioritizing all along and want to keep those patients in active treatment,” said Dr. Mayo.
Dr. Apostolakos said a majority of patients getting surgery will be given the COVID-19 swab test. He also said the hospitals have redesigned the patient process.
“We’re going to make sure that the schedules are made in a way that we don’t have more than one person waiting in the waiting room. We’ve removed chairs from some waiting rooms, we’ve put tapes over other chairs.”
Doctors from both systems said it could take a few months to catch up on all the backlogged surgeries from the past five weeks.
The reopening of elective surgeries is happening at all hospitals and ambulatory clinics in both systems.