A major piece of the healthcare picture began to change Tuesday, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo lifted the ban on elective surgeries in some sections of New York. One of those areas is Niagara County. They are not allowed in Erie County yet.
Immediately, Eastern Niagara Health System started scheduling operations Tuesday at the main hospital in Lockport and its Ambulatory Care center on the edge of the city. President and CEO Anne McCaffrey said the two facilities perform an average of 100 surgeries a week, significant in a service area of 100,000 people.
McCaffrey said the elective shutdown was a problem for the hospital.
"It's been a serious challenge for us," she said. "Surgeries are an important part of our business, both for our patients and our daily employees' duties. So it's been a major challenge for us and, certainly, a big impact on our financial outlook to know that we haven't had those surgeries scheduled for the past few weeks and we haven't been able to accomplish a very important part of our service."
McCaffrey said she was forced to lay off workers because of Albany shutting off elective surgeries. She said electives, like hip replacements, can be important surgeries for patients so that the recipient can again lead a fairly normal life.
"Saying that it's elective makes it sound like you could wait forever. You really can't," she said. "There's certainly instances. There's gastrointestinal issues and orthopedic and bone issues that you can't put off for a very long period of time without it causing some distress on the patient. So it's been hard enough that they have had to wait about month now to get those surgeries back on schedule."