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Florida Hospitals Restarting Elective Surgeries

Mark Hillary

Florida’s hospitals will resume doing elective and urgent surgeries Monday. It comes two weeks after the Florida Medical Association and statewide hospital organizations wrote to Gov. Ron DeSantis urging him to lift the executive order tamping down on the procedures.

Hospitals have continued to do emergency surgeries in the interim. The Executive Order was written to preserve personal protective equipment at the onset of the new coronavirus. Florida has not seen the high rate of hospitalizations epidemiologists and infectious disease experts initially predicted.

The stop on elective surgeries has caused hospitals to see steep declines in revenues and some have furloughed doctors and nurses.

“What a lot of people don’t recognize is that we took a lot of these actions to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. That obviously succeeded in Florida. But because all these other things weren’t happening, a lot of hospitals had to furlough workers, so some of the capacity was actually diminished on the back end. So this will allow the system to start running again like it should,” said DeSantis.

Elective surgeries don’t mean a procedure is optional. Rather, it means a procedure that can be planned in advance.

In it’s April 21 letter to the state, the Florida Medical Association, the trade group for physicians, wrote thousands of people have seen postponements in their treatments for kidney failure, heart disease, and cancer because of the executive order. The organization warns a second crisis is brewing: more emergencies and deaths from people who’ve gone untreated or had their treatments delayed.

"Many of the physician practices that would deal with this pent-up demand have seen their revenues plunge and face imminent closure. It is essential for the health and safety of all Floridians that the state do all it can to keep these practices open," wrote FMA President Ronald Giffler.

There has been concern that as Florida and other states begin to lift their stay-at-home orders, there could be secondary infections come the Fall. DeSantis says if that happens, “we’ll have a much better infrastructure than the country had in March.”

The state has also begun rolling out serology tests to determine who may have already had the virus and developed antibodies. Experts believe the new coronavirus was circulating in the county as early as December and January.

The state’s ongoing testing efforts will continue. DeSantis announced Sunday that Walgreens, CVS and Walmart will begin allowing their pharmacists to test for the virus. Walgreens is establishing sites in Hillsboro, Volusia, Orange City, Opa-Locka, Miami-Dade, Miami, Orlando, Winter Garden, and Jupiter. DeSantis says Walmart and CVS will announce their locations soon.

Copyright 2020 WFSU. To see more, visit .

Lynn Hatter has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas. She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative.
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