CARMEL, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It has been six weeks of waiting for New Yorkers who need elective surgeries.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered hospitals to stop the procedures on March 24, to prepare for a surge in coronavirus cases. Now, hospitals in several far northern suburbs are preparing to open their operating rooms once more, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Monday.

Just north of Westchester County, the only hospital in Putnam County is making plans to restart elective surgeries.

“This is a balance between providing the necessary care for the patients while keeping them and our staff safe,” said Nuvance Health Chair of Surgery Dr. Jeffrey Nicastro said.


Nicastro said over the last six weeks more than 1,000 procedures have been postponed at the three hospitals run by Nuvance Health, as the facilities went all-in on fighting COVID-19. Joint replacements, hysterectomies, gall bladder surgeries were among the procedures delayed across New York.

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Neurosurgeon Ezriel Kornel said his spinal surgery patients are in pain and anxious for relief.

“Of course they’re frustrated. They’re living with these symptoms and can’t move forward. Their lives are sort of being put on hold,” Kornel said.

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Now, hospitals in Putnam, Dutchess, and 33 other counties where the pandemic has eased have been cleared to restart elective surgeries.

These surgeries provide critical revenues. Putting them on hold cost the state’s 180 hospitals hundreds of millions of dollars.

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Putnam Hospital is working carefully on a plan to meet state and federal guidelines, which are likely to require patients to test negative for coronavirus, pre-surgery.

“Somewhere in the two-to-three-day range before the operation, and in the subsequent time between then and the operation, or the procedure, they will be asked to self-quarantine,” Nicastro said.

Visitors will be curtailed or barred and patients will see many more medical staff in full personal protection equipment. Hospitals will take acuteness of need into consideration as they schedule procedures, and work to clear the elective surgery backlog.


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