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The Wall Street Journal: Hospitals Aim to Resume Procedures Postponed by Coronavirus

By Melanie Evans and Russell Gold

Hospitals, clinics and surgery centers are moving tentatively to resume surgeries and other procedures that were halted when the coronavirus pandemic reached the U.S., a shift that could help stanch the sector’s financial losses but presents new risks to infection control and public health.

Opening up surgery will be welcomed by anxious patients who waited weeks for procedures that were important, such as some diagnostic imaging and gallbladder surgeries, but could be temporarily delayed. And for hospitals, outpatient procedures are a growing source of revenue and typically more profitable than treating critically ill, hospitalized patients. Shutting down elective surgeries led to layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts across the health-care sector. After weeks of delays, hospitals and surgery centers face mounting financial pressure and a backlog of patients.

Experts agree that restarting surgical procedures will be difficult.

Limited stocks of protective equipment and testing as well as anxiety among doctors, nurses and hospital staff will slow the ramp-up at Children’s Mercy Kansas City in Kansas City, said Shawn St. Peter, the chief of surgery.

Children’s Mercy, which postponed nonessential surgery in mid-March, began in April to test all remaining patients. That greatly eased staff concerns, he said. No patient has tested positive, he said, but it is unlikely the hospital would resume surgery without more capacity to continue testing all patients.


Read the full story via The Wall Street Journal

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