MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There has been a call to end restrictions on elective surgeries on Long Island. They have been on hold during the coronavirus crisis, but now doctors are saying the delay may be impacting the condition of some patients.

Some in the hospital community are adamant about the medical, not to mention the financial, need to jump-start elective surgeries now.

“There is only so far you can push these things off before what was termed elective becomes urgent or emergent,” said Dr. Patrick O’Shaughnessy, Chief Clinical Officer of Catholic Health Services.

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O’Shaughnessy said he thought it would be tough to wait until May 15 when the “New York pause” order expires. But bets on that date are off, because Long Island has not yet met key criteria for reopening the region, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“Everything has basically come to a standstill. We really need to open up medicine,” Great Neck internist Dr. Bruce Lowell said.


Lowell said his patients are still having strokes and heart attacks, but are unable to receive the unusual care due to COVID-19. As a result, he is practicing telemedicine.

“I finally told the husband, ‘You must call 911. You have no choice.’ He went back into the room, and, unfortunately, had found his wife had passed,” Lowell said, recounting a recent case. “This is someone who could and should have been saved.”

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Many believe their hospitals can safely isolate COVID-19 patients while successfully performing cardiac procedures, colon cancer surgeries, and more.

“You are foregoing elective surgery, problems could potentially get worse down the road, so that is a message that I hear loud and clear and I know the governor is working on this,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.

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Many in Long Island’s medical community told McLogan you cannot keep people on pause forever, suggesting patients may soon cross county and state lines for surgeries.

“I think that the concern now that we are all feeling in health care is that there could be a secondary public health potential crisis if we are not allowed to resume elective work,” Dr. O’Shaughnessy said.

Resuming surgeries will also bolster the bottom line. New York health systems say they are collectively losing $1 billion per month.


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