June 26, 2020

Healthcare - Pandemic Undermining Elective Procedure Recovery in Arizona

By Sara Stahl
The recent escalation of COVID-19 cases in Arizona has undermined the recovery in elective surgery procedures there, even though no state restrictions have been issued.

Unlike Texas, where the governor yesterday re-suspended elective surgeries in four counties, no state restrictions on elective procedures have been issued in Arizona. However, one large Arizona hospital system recently placed “significant limits” on elective cases, according to a cardiology practitioner there. “The hospital is loaded with COVID cases. [Elective] procedures that require [hospital] admission are on hold. Only emergent and urgent cases are allowed to be scheduled, but cancellations [of these cases] are possible based on bed and ventilator availability. It’s a tight spot for all of us right now,” the source said. 

Meanwhile, two sources who work in separate locations at a second large Arizona hospital system said the rise in COVID cases has slowed elective procedures, and one said a decision to restrict elective surgeries is underway, at least at her hospital. “We could see [restrictions] as soon as Saturday or Monday, but we’ve already been seeing patients push out procedures. In the last week, patients have been rescheduling because they prefer to wait until winter, hopefully after this wave [of COVID cases] passes,” one source said. The other said, “The hospital has not yet eliminated elective surgeries, but some physicians are pushing them out to ensure we have the facilities and staff to take care of those [patients] who are more critically ill.” At least one other smaller Arizona hospital system has also reported restricting elective procedures.

OTR Global last covered elective surgery trends during the pandemic in an April 17 note.