BUFFALO, N.Y. — All major hospitals in the Buffalo area have canceled elective surgeries to conserve dwindling supplies of blood and protective gear, such as face masks, that are needed to treat victims of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Surgeons at Catholic Health and the Erie County Medical Center began canceling elective surgeries earlier in the week. Kaleida Health followed suit with a decision Thursday to cancel non-emergency surgeries effective today. Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center announced it would take the same measure, effective Friday evening.
The embargo on all non-essential procedures comes as hospitals seek to limit staff and patient exposure to coronavirus and brace for an influx of COVID-19 patients. Blood for transfusions and protective gear for healthcare providers, including face masks, are in critically short supply. These consumable supplies, like tests for COVID-19, have become difficult to obtain.
If hospitals hadn't decided to do so, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo indicated on Friday that they soon would have been forced to.
"By definition elective surgeries that are non surgical can be done at a different time and now is the time not to do them," said the Governor. "We informed the hospitals of that, we are going to set a date for that, and that will set up between 25 and 30 percent of the existing hospital beds."
In speaking to the need to expand hospital capacity in the event that there actually is a surge of COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization, Cuomo said, "We wanna know from each hospital how many beds can you get in your hospital. We are waiving the department of health regulations about space. This would be on a short term basis but we want a plan from every hospital regarding how many beds they can provide if they use every available space."
As reported previously by WGRZ-TV, the state is waiving certification requirements so that medical and nursing students could also help out in a pinch, and registering retried health care professionals to pitch in just in case.