Speaking at his weekly coronavirus briefing, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy says that despite concerns about a winter surge and the omicron variant, there are no current plans to limit minimally invasive spine surgeries or any other elective surgery.
When COVID-19 first emerged in the United States in 2020, concerns over shortages in emergency room resources, respirators, ventilators and personal protective equipment led the governor to ban elective surgeries from March 27th through May 25th. Similar bans were enacted in many other states and were effective in reserving supplies and resources, but in doing so they had a significant impact on both the financial health of hospitals and the health of the general public. Where a study estimated a $22.3 billion cost for the two-month pause, the full scope of the impact of elective surgery cancellation is yet to be determined and may forever be unknown.
At the time that the ban was lifted the president of the New Jersey Hospital Association said resumption of elective surgeries was “necessary for the health of the people of our state,” and that sentiment is echoed in Murphy’s current declaration. Speaking to reporters he noted that putting another ban on elective surgeries in place would be “pretty draconian.” He pointed to his own recent cancer surgery as an example of a surgery that would have been categorized as elective, and with the caveat that he has the authority to do so in the future if needed, he said “We’re not remotely there.”
In nearby New York, the governor is preparing for a winter surge of COVID by signing an executive order that allows the New York health department to limit elective procedures like minimally invasive spine surgery if and when hospitals reach a level below 10% of staffed bed capacity. In the state of New Jersey hospital admissions have not come close to those levels. According to Murphy, “The ICU and ventilator counts, new COVID-positive admissions and in-hospital deaths from one year ago were all also more than triple what they were yesterday.” Though the state’s hospitals have seen their in-patient numbers increase by almost 36 percent in the last month, they are still almost 14% lower than they were in September, when the Delta variant was sweeping the country.
At our New Jersey spine care practice, we have assembled a team of both surgeons and pain relief specialists who can provide both surgical and non-surgical treatment for our patients. Though we strive to use the least invasive, most conservative treatment appropriate for each patient’s condition, there are occasions where surgery will be the best remedy. To ensure that you are getting the best treatment for your particular circumstance, contact us today to set up a time for you to come in for a consultation.