As announced by Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine on Monday, April 27, Pennsylvania hospitals can now begin to perform elective surgeries and procedures as long as they are able to do so without jeopardizing the safety of patients and staff or the hospital’s ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) had prohibited elective procedures since March 17 in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure that health systems had adequate staffing in place to deal with predicted increases in COVID-19 patients.
In moving forward with performing elective surgeries and procedures, hospitals do not need to gain approval from DOH, but must update their Emergency Preparedness Plans to reflect that such surgeries and procedures have resumed if the suspension of elective surgeries and procedures was initially reflected in their emergency plans. Hospitals must also update their initial Patient Safety Reporting System (PSRS) report to indicate that those surgeries and procedures are no longer suspended and must also adhere to the updated guidance issued by DOH on April 27, 2020, which can be found here.
This announcement by DOH should prove to be a needed boost to hospitals in Pennsylvania who have been struggling financially since the beginning of the COVID-19 national emergency, as hospitals derive a significant portion of their income by performing these medical procedures. An analysis commissioned by The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) found that the prohibition on elective surgeries and procedures resulted in a loss of revenue to Pennsylvania hospitals of nearly $1 billion in the month of March alone.