An executive order issued last week by Gov. Kathy Hochul is taking effect today that could lead to limitations on elective surgeries and other procedures in New York hospitals amid a staffed bed shortage.
At the moment, no hospitals have been ordered to limit procedures by state Department of Health. The determinations, which allow health officials to place limitations on elective procedures at hospitals facing capacity issues, will be issued to hospitals by Dec. 6, and apply on procedures that are scheduled to occur on or before Dec. 9.
In a guidance made public Friday and sent to hospital administrators, the Department of Health pointed to the sharp rise in COVID cases in the last several weeks.
"New York is now experiencing COVID-19 transmission at rates the state has not seen since April 2021, and the rate of new COVID-19 hospital admissions has been increasing over the past month to over 300 new admissions a day," the guidance stated.
The order was issued as hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have once again climbed above 3,000 patients in New York statewide. Meanwhile, state health officials have also confirmed five cases of the omicron variant in New York state in the last day, though it is not clear how rapidly this mutation of the virus will spread or be effective against vaccinations and booster shots.
All this comes as hospitals and nursing homes are contending with a staffing shortage created by health care worker departures and retirements. Hochul this week pointed to "burnout" among health care workers as well as some quitting due to a mandate that they receive the COVID vaccine.
The state Department of Health identified 31 hospitals that are facing limited capacity of 10% of staffed beds remaining or less. The number of hospitals affected by staffed bed capacity problems was as high as 56 facilities this week; state health officials have said the number will change as the data evolves.
Limiting elective procedures and surgeries as part of Hochul's order will also have the state move quickly to acquire supplies deemed critical to address the ongoing pandemic.