COVID-19: Virginia governor directs all hospitals to stop elective surgeries


FILE – In this Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 file photo, a surgeon directs a special camera to be able to view his patient’s cancer tumor on monitors while performing surgery at a hospital in Philadelphia. As the COVID-19 coronavirus spreads, many cancer surgeries are being delayed, stent procedures for clogged arteries have been pushed back and infertility specialists were asked to postpone helping patients get pregnant. In March 2020, doctors in virtually every field are scrambling to alter care. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday directed all hospitals to stop doing elective surgeries or procedures.

The goal of Northam’s directive is to help conserve supplies of personal protective equipment and medical beds during response to the coronavirus.

The public health emergency order Wednesday does not apply to any procedures that would cause harm to the patient if they were delayed, the governor’s office wrote in a news release.

The order comes on the tails of Northam’s recommendation earlier this week to postpone elective surgeries.

Many hospitals have already postponed those surgeries before the official order Wednesday.

“Hospitals and medical facilities in Virginia and around the country are in desperate need of additional masks, gowns, gloves, and other personal protective equipment,” said Governor Northam. “While we work to increase our supply, it makes sense to decrease the demand on that equipment where we can. Postponing elective surgeries allows us to divert more PPE to the medical staff who are dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak so we can better protect the men and men on the front lines of this public health emergency, fighting to keep us all safe.”

Licensed inpatient and outpatient surgical hospitals, free-standing endoscopy centers, physicians’ offices, and dental, orthodontic, and endodontic offices can still do procedures or surgeries if not completing them could cause harm to a patient’s condition.

“Outpatient surgical hospitals are encouraged to work with local inpatient hospitals to assist with surge capacity needs,” the release said.

Virginia received its first shipment of personal protective equipment from the national stockpile this week. The state has already made its second request.

Last week, Northam also issued another executive order that lifted the state’s certificate of public need restrictions. Hospitals and nursing homes can increase their bed capacity as-needed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Northam has also ordered all K-12 schools to remain closed through the end of the school year, as well as required many non-essential businesses to close.

The governor still recommends all Virginians stay home except for necessary trips.

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