Doctors cheer return of elective surgeries in Erie County

What took so long? Hear from Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul

Mike Baggerman
June 03, 2020 - 11:00 pm

Buffalo General Hospital. May 21, 2019 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) – Elective surgeries coming back to Erie County bring a sigh of relief for doctors who were frustrated that some health centers in the county were unable to conduct the surgeries despite no exposure to coronavirus.

“It’s the right thing for our community,” Dr. Les Bisson, Chair of Orthopedics at the University at Buffalo, said. “It’s going to allow us to properly care for our patients, to be proactive in terms of managing the disease, to lessen the consumption of opioids for people with significant arthritic conditions, and to really alter their natural history in terms of lessening arthritis and other degenerative disease.”

Elective surgeries were canceled across New York State due to concerns about coronavirus and the limited number of beds available for anyone battling the disease that has killed thousands across the state and hundreds in Erie County.

The loss of elective surgeries was a major reason why many in the health care field lost their jobs or were furloughed. Some of the local hospitals make as much as $30 million per month on elective surgeries.

Prior to Wednesday’s announcement by the governor’s office, many local hospitals applied for, and were granted, a waiver which allowed them to conduct the surgeries.

However, smaller centers such as Ambulatory Surgery Center of Western New York, Ambulatory Surgery Center, Endoscopy Center of Western New York, Millard Fillmore Surgery Center, and Southtowns Surgery Center, were all not allowed to conduct elective surgeries, despite requesting the same waiver as many large hospitals.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said she did not know why the New York State Department of Health did not approve the waiver for smaller surgical centers earlier.

“Certainly, it’s unfortunate the individuals had to wait so long,” Hochul said. “Hopefully now that we can get back to some semblance of normal, however you define normal while we’re still in the throes of the pandemic. The good news is that they are now approved.”

Bisson said the goal is to now promote health and safety for their patients at outpatient facilities.

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