Elective surgeries canceled again as NYC public hospitals brace for COVID surge
By SHANT SHAHRIGIANNEW YORK DAILY NEWS |DEC 17, 2020 AT 1:51 PM
As a surge in COVID cases continues, the city has again suspended elective surgery at public hospitals, officials said Thursday.
In anticipation of increased stress on the public health system, Gov. Cuomo recently called on hospital systems to use no more than 85% of their bed capacity, either by adding beds, canceling elective surgeries or both.
“We have suspended elective procedures,” Dr. Mitchell Katz, CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals, said at a press conference held by Mayor de Blasio.
“The only surgeries that we will be doing are those surgeries … that come in urgently such as a car accident or somebody’s health is directly affected,” he added.
The city’s 11 public hospitals are about 65% full, according to Katz.
“A third more patients than patients we have would easily fit in without opening any extraordinary spaces,” the doc said.
The policy change, which began Tuesday, was aimed at preventing the kind of crisis the city saw in the spring, when hospitals caught off-guard by the pandemic were overflowing with COVID patients. Elective surgery was canceled in mid-March, then brought back starting in June.
Councilman Mark Levine (D-Manhattan), who chairs the Council’s Health Committee, voiced approval of the renewed measure, though he noted it will have “dire implications for both patients and for hospital systems.”
The ongoing surge in COVID cases is prompting the authorities to bring back other restrictions that had eased over the summer.
Indoor dining at Big Apple restaurants has been banned since Tuesday, and the closure of businesses deemed “nonessential” could come around Christmas, de Blasio said Thursday.
“The number of cases is too high. The Infection level is too high. The number of hospitalizations is too high and unfortunately, it’s just growing,” Hizzoner said. “None of us likes restrictions, but I think we need them sooner rather than later.”
As of Wednesday, the seven-day average rate at which COVID tests were coming back positive came to 6%, up from the 1-2% range over the summer.
During the week ending Tuesday, 132 New Yorkers died of the virus, according to the city Health Department, bringing the death toll to 24,578 — the worst of any city in the country.