Virginia hospitals and dental practices can resume non-emergency elective surgeries and other procedures on Friday, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Wednesday.
Northam ordered a suspension of elective procedures in mid-March to reserve hospital capacity and conserve personal protective equipment for use in treating coronavirus patients. While Virginia’s hospitals are currently treating over 1,500 COVID-19 patients, they have over 5,000 beds available, and ICU and ventilator usage has not surged to levels that were feared.
“Our efforts to show the spread of this virus are showing success,” Northam said at his thrice-weekly news conference in Richmond. “Our hospitals have not been overwhelmed.”
Non-emergency procedures can range from cancer surgeries to knee replacements and other elective surgeries. In addition, dental practices can re-open Friday and veterinarian offices can resume all forms of care, Northam said.
Dr. Michael McDermott, president and CEO of Mary Washington Healthcare in Fredericksburg and chairman of the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, said during the news conference that the state’s hospitals now have enough personal protective equipment and testing capacity to treat all patients.
“Our hospitals are exceedingly safe facilities,” McDermott said. “If you need care, please do not hesitate to receive care to improve your health outcome.”
The suspension of elective procedures has cost state hospitals at least $200 million in lost revenue, McDermott said. and many hospitals have laid off or furloughed employees. But he emphasized that ending elective procedures was the right thing to do.