New York ASCs have patients 'begging' for surgery, furloughed staff collecting unemployment — 5 details

Several outpatient physicians and executives spoke to the Observer-Dispatch about New York's executive order that excludes ASCs from resuming elective surgeries.

Five takeaways:

1. Elective surgery standstills were a blow to Griffiss Surgery Center in Rome, N.Y., where physicians typically perform upward of 1,000 surgeries each month, according to CEO and medical director Patrick Costello, MD.

"Just to be clear, they're elective surgeries, but they're medically necessary surgeries," said Dr. Costello, an ophthalmologist. "These aren't cosmetic surgeries and things like that."

2. Orthopedic surgeon Andrew Wickline, MD, typically performs nine or 10 cases a day, three days a week, at Utica, N.Y.-based Mohawk Valley Health System. He's now limited to six cases three days a week.

As the co-owner of Apex Surgical Center in Westmoreland, N.Y., Dr. Wickline said he has about "250 patients who are begging" for surgery.

3. Apex Surgical Center's monthly caseload dropped from 400 to zero as of March 21, according to CEO Tim Scanlon. Even if cases are considered "nonemergency," they can't be postponed indefinitely, he said.

"As time goes on that patient becomes more and more debilitated," Mr. Scanlon told the Observer-Dispatch. "So that disease goes on and that condition progresses so that patients are suffering, quite frankly."

4. Apex Surgical Center furloughed about 40 full-time-equivalent employees. While it's continuing to pay employee benefits, workers were told to collect unemployment until the center can reopen.

5. Mr. Scanlon said exclusion from the executive order felt like "a gut punch" to the ASC's staff and surgeons, who immediately began working on reopening plans before discovering their center wouldn't be allowed to resume operations.

More articles on surgery centers:
Life after ramp-up: How COVID-19 will change ASCs forever
3 ASC nurses join COVID-19 front lines in New York
4 hospitals, health systems opening ASCs 

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