Just because a surgery is called “elective” doesn’t mean it’s necessarily optional. By definition, elective surgeries, planned in advance, are simply not medical emergencies and do not put patients’ lives at immediate risk. Such surgeries were delayed in New York State by Gov. Cuomo’s order on March 16 during the height of the COVID crisis. Two months later, on May 16, the governor rescinded that order and as of May 21, hospitals like Northern Westchester are performing elective surgeries again.
Surgeries, like hurricanes, have categories, or in this case, tiers. During the peak of the crisis in the beginning of April, Northern Westchester Hospital was performing about four surgeries a day. These were Tier 4 surgeries—the most serious that needed to be done immediately to preserve life or limb. By the end of that month, Northern Westchester had a plan in place and was able to perform Tier 3 operations—those that can wait up to two to three weeks, but no more. Tier 2 surgeries can typically wait three months before an operation without additional harm to the patient—think a hip replacement where pain can temporarily be managed with medication. And Tier 1 surgeries are those where a patient can wait six months or more with no negative consequences.
“I’m proud to say that by [the end of April], while doing 10 to 12 Tier 3 surgeries a day (in addition, of course, to Tier 4 surgeries), we were already fully prepared for the day when we could resume our full schedule of surgeries,” said Michael H. Rosenberg, MD, FACS, Vice-President of Surgical Services, Associate Medical Director at Northern Westchester Hospital.
“As the number of COVID patients came down, we were able to reestablish a stable supply of safety equipment and put processes in place that created a completely safe environment for treating non-COVID patients,” he added. “We’ve been doing non-emergency surgeries since April 27 and the processes we’ve put in place have kept our patients safe and healthy throughout their surgical experiences.”
For more information about how Northern Westchester Hospital is ready to take care of you and your surgical needs, new or re-scheduled, click here.