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ECMC approved for elective surgeries; Catholic Health returns to full caseloads

Erie County Medical Center, granted a waiver from the state Health Department Monday, can resume elective surgeries. The hospital joins the Catholic Health System and two Kaleida Health hospitals with approvals for elective surgeries.

Catholic Health announced a full schedule of elective surgeries at its hospitals this week for the first time since before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, allowing it to bring back 250 to 300 furloughed workers.

Hospital officials have said that the ban on elective procedures cost them tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue and forced them to furlough employees.

“This will have a significantly positive impact on ECMC’s operations and finances, and most importantly on our patients," said ECMC President and CEO Thomas J. Quatroche Jr.

The Grider Street hospital plans to recall furloughed workers as soon as possible, ECMC spokesman Peter K. Cutler said.

"As we restart outpatient elective surgeries that will ultimately benefit our patients, we will maintain all of the required safety precautions we have instituted to help prevent further community spread of the virus," Quatroche said.

In mid-March, Cuomo ordered all hospitals to cease elective surgeries to keep beds available for a Covid-19 surge, which so far has not occurred in most of the state outside New York City.

On May 5, the state allowed Catholic Health facilities in Erie County to resume elective surgeries, two weeks after allowing the procedures to restart elsewhere in Western New York.

That enabled Catholic Health's Mount St. Mary's Hospital in Lewiston to restart elective surgeries April 28.

The first Erie County waiver went to Catholic Health because it operates the region's sole Covid-19 hospital, Sisters of Charity, St. Joseph Campus in Cheektowaga. That keeps almost all Covid-19 patients out of its other hospitals.

As of Monday, Sisters and Mount St. Mary's had no Covid-19 patients. Mercy and Kenmore Mercy had one each.

Catholic Health spokeswoman JoAnn Cavanaugh said about 175 elective procedures were carried out at Catholic hospitals last week, This week, the figure will be about 500.

Catholic Health runs Covid-19 tests on all elective surgery patients and does not permit their loved ones to wait on-site, instead communicating with them remotely about the progress of the procedure.

Kaleida's Oishei Children's Hospital and Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital received the green light May 8 to resume elective surgeries.

However, Kaleida's Buffalo General Medical Center has not yet received a waiver to restart elective procedures.

“We have received confirmation that the waiver applications for the Buffalo General Medical Center and our two surgery centers remain under active review," Kaleida President and CEO Jody Lomeo said. "Our conversations with the state remain very productive. We have said all along that this is not a race. Based on the data that we have submitted and the trends of the past week or so, we remain confident that we will be able to resume elective surgeries soon."

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