Orthopedists, gastroenterologists, neurosurgeons and other specialists have postponed thousands of procedures since New York's temporary ban on elective surgeries took effect March 16, according to The Buffalo News.
Freestanding outpatient surgery centers in the state are still waiting for the green light to resume cases.
Five things to know:
1. UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Buffalo, N.Y., has postponed 2,000-plus surgeries, according to President Leslie Bisson, MD, who is also chair of the orthopedic surgery department at the University of Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
2. UBMD orthopedic surgeons perform roughly half of their outpatient procedures at the Millard Fillmore Surgery Center in Amherst, N.Y., and Southtowns Ambulatory Center in Orchard Park, N.Y. — centers that ceased operations in case of a surge in COVID-19 patients.
3. The centers can halt cases again if necessary, Dr. Bisson said. But right now, with new testing and screening protocols, disinfection processes and visitor restrictions, as well as increased availability of personal protective equipment for staff and no COVID-19 patients being treated there, "these places are safer than the grocery store," Dr. Bisson said.
4. Dr. Bisson said the term "elective" doesn't properly reflect the importance of procedures that have been delayed. Patients have been waiting seven weeks for ligament repairs or joint replacements, dealing with pain and trouble sleeping in the meantime.
"These are patients who are suffering," Dr. Bisson told The Buffalo News. "If you dent a car, you can still elect to drive it. If you don't change your oil or have a flat tire, you can still drive it, too, but for how long?"
5. With elective cases on pause, UBMD's 18 group practices cut physician pay and scaled back hours for other workers, according to Kevin Gibbons, MD, executive director of the UBMD Physicians Group in Buffalo and chief of neurosurgery at Buffalo-based Kaleida Health.