Is Elective Surgery Back On?

June 7, 2020

If you’ve been waiting patiently to have an elective surgical procedure performed, now is time to schedule an appointment. After nearly two months, doctors and dentists across New Jersey are able to perform elective medical and dental surgery again.

The decision to suspend elective surgery and other invasive procedures statewide was made in March by Governor Phil Murphy, in order to allow health care providers to focus on treating patients who were hospitalized with the novel coronavirus during the months when coronavirus cases were at their peak in New Jersey.

“Thanks to the hard work of our health care heroes and the efforts of many at home to flatten the curve, Hackensack Meridian Health and hospitals across New Jersey continue to see a downward trend in COVID-19 patients and we’ve developed new strategies to keep everyone safe,” says Kenneth Sable, M.D., southern region president at Hackensack Meridian Health. “So, if you’ve been waiting for treatment, it’s safe to come get that care you need.”

Why elective surgery was suspended

New Jersey has been severely impacted by coronavirus. After New York, it’s the state with the next-highest numbers, with more than 150,000 cases and 11,000-plus deaths to date.

When it became apparent in March that New Jersey’s hospitals could be overwhelmed by patients with coronavirus, the decision was made to suspend surgery “that can be delayed without undue risk to the current or future health of the patient, as determined by the patient’s treating physician or dentist,” according to the executive order.

The suspension of elective surgery allowed health care providers treating patients with coronavirus to have more access to personal protective equipment (PPE) at New Jersey hospitals, which has helped to protect the health care workers on the front lines of the pandemic. The suspension also allowed hospitals to prioritize the care of patients with coronavirus and prevent possible overcrowding in facilities.

Why elective surgery was reinstated

Once the peak of coronavirus cases in New Jersey passed, public health experts determined that it would be safe to offer elective procedures in hospitals with a sustained 14-day downward trend of coronavirus cases.

“If you’ve been at home dealing with pain, limited mobility or other problems, you’ll be happy to know that your care teams have been preparing and are ready to take care of you in the safest way possible,” says Dr. Sable.

The New Jersey Department of Health has issued guidelines to help hospitals resume elective surgery safely. Facilities are required to keep patients who test positive and negative for coronavirus in separate zones whenever possible. Patients getting elective surgery are required to:

  • wear face coverings
  • practice social distancing
  • get tested for coronavirus
  • self-quarantine until surgery to avoid a change in coronavirus status

Reasons to have elective surgery at Hackensack Meridian facilities

All Hackensack Meridian facilities have taken additional measures to ensure the safety of patients, including:

  • Testing all admitted patients for COVID-19
  • Keeping patients who test positive in separate areas than patients who test negative
  • Cleaning and sanitizing all facilities regularly
  • Testing air, water and surfaces to ensure that they’re properly cleaned and sanitized
  • Offering special entrances for people having certain elective procedures
  • Taking the temperatures of everyone in the facility, including patients and health care providers
  • Providing health care providers with the PPE that they need

“At Hackensack Meridian Health we’ve taken significant steps to make sure all patients who visit our facilities for a procedure are safe,” says Dr. Sable. “Talk to your doctor to find out when you can schedule your procedure.”

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The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.