By ELIZABETH COOPER • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – As COVID-19 cases slow and the virus appears more contained, Bassett Hospital is beginning to start the process of returning to a new version of normalcy.
“We realized that things that could be put off for a few weeks can no longer be deferred,” said Dr. William LeCates, hospital president. “What was elective for a week or two is often not
for two to three months.”
All elective surgeries had been canceled by state order to make those beds available for COVID-19 patients and out of fear other patients would catch the virus.
However, with Bassett’s COVID-19 numbers declining for the second week in a row, Governor Cuomo said last week that he will soon allow elective surgeries to start again in areas like Otsego County, where there are few COVID patients.
He has yet to issue the executive order that would trigger that change, but the hospital is already choosing to let certain postponed surgeries move forward, LeCates said.
Procedures to address very slow-moving cancers were delayed but may start again, as might surgeries related to chronic pain, he said.
Decisions as to whether to proceed with surgeries are being made carefully by the patient’s doctors.
“We look at each individual patient and the needs of that person,” LeCates said.
Because of the reduction in non-COVID patient visits, Bassett had reallocated some staff to coronavirus-related work. Other staff whose workloads have decreased have been asked to take some of their paid vacation for now.
As the surgeries gradually start up again, those employees will return to their regular jobs and schedules, LeCates said.
The hospital will continue to observe strict precautions as it returns to its previous rhythm, he said.
Those entering the hospital may find themselves having their temperatures taken and patients undergoing procedures may have COVID tests to ensure that other patients and hospital staff are safe.
Positive results for the virus that causes COVID-19 now hover at less than 5 percent of those tested said LeCates.
On Tuesday, April 28, Otsego County Health Department data show the county has had 61 confirmed cases of the disease, and of those 46 have recovered.