Last month New York State temporarily halted elective surgeries at hospitals across New York State. The order was issued to ensure that enough hospital beds would remain available for COVID-19 patients as the infection rate climbed.
On April 21, he announced that the ban on elective surgeries would be lifted on a rolling basis for upstate hospitals, but only in areas where the infection rate has been low and a sufficient number of beds are open for potential COVID-19 patients. For now, the ban on elective surgeries will remain in place in Erie County, where Roswell Park is located, because the county’s COVID-19 case load remains high.
What does that mean for cancer patients at Roswell Park?
- Remember that the governor’s order affects elective surgeries only. “Very few of our cancer cases are considered elective,” says John M. Kane III, MD, FACS, Chair of Surgical Oncology at Roswell Park. “We’re a cancer center. We have to treat cancer. It doesn’t go away in a pandemic, just like heart attacks and heart disease and trauma don’t go away. And we have the necessary precautions in place to do it safely.”
- Roswell Park surgeons have been and will continue to perform all essential surgeries. With COVID-19 precautions in place and sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE), we’re scheduling surgeries that were previously postponed, but cannot safely be delayed any further. We are also able to treat newly diagnosed patients in a more timely manner.
- As soon as we are cleared to offer non-urgent surgeries and procedures, we will focus on treatment of slow-growing tumors and pre-cancerous lesions, as well as surveillance for high-risk cancers of the lung, breast and colon. Very soon we will also increase the number of procedures for removal of thyroid cancers and small cancers in the lung and breast.
- Because we had to discontinue screening and surveillance programs for lung, breast and colon cancers at the start of the pandemic, resuming those programs will also be a top priority.
If you are a Roswell Park patient and have questions about any aspect of your care, including the status of an upcoming surgery or other treatment or procedure, please contact your Roswell Park provider for more information.
If you are not a patient but would like to know what care is currently available for you at Roswell Park, please call us at 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355). We are here for you.