The Pennsylvania Department of Health has given the state’s hospitals until midnight Thursday to implement their COVID-19 emergency plans, including limits on elective surgeries.
“We are working to try and stop elective surgeries and elective procedures,” said State Health Department Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine. “That’s always a decision between a patient and a doctor. Those decisions are being asked to be made.”
If the state’s hospitals agree with the department’s request, prioritizing essential surgeries would free up spaces for patients as positive cases of coronavirus surge and would limit the amount of protective equipment used, Levine said.
Penn State Health announced on Wednesday that it set its own plan in place to suspend non-essential surgeries and asked its surgeons to review their operating room schedules and cancel all elective procedures. The department has also pulled back its regulations regarding the addition of new beds, allowing any Pennsylvania hospital to add additional regular care and ICU beds as needed.
Levine warned that daily counts of the virus continue to increase rapidly, suggesting that community spread of coronavirus is already happening. She asked hospitals and health systems to prepare for a continued surge of the virus in the coming weeks.