Northwell Health announced last week that the system would be canceling elective surgeries and procedures performed in its hospitals and that it will delay payments for patients financially impacted by the coronavirus.
The new guidelines for surgeries will not apply to emergencies, according to a statement from the system.
“Elective surgeries, endoscopies and other invasive procedures in the health system’s outpatient settings will continue to be performed when deemed clinically necessary,” the statement reads. “If a surgery is considered non-essential, the elective case will be postponed or canceled to minimize COVID-19 exposure to patients and staff.”
Dr. David Battinelli, Northwell’s chief medical officer, stressed that “necessary” planned cases would continue without interruption.
“With appropriate screening of patients and when deemed clinically necessary, some planned cases will continue to be performed,” Battinelli said. “Patient care that may appear routine could, if canceled, result in significant negative impact on our patients’ health.”
Planned imaging procedures, including ultrasounds, CT scans, MRIs, mammograms and non-invasive cardiology testing, are not among those being canceled.
To further reduce the volume of patients coming into its facilities, Northwell is also directing its practitioners to reschedule non-essential visits unless clinically necessary within the next four weeks, the system said.
The approach will apply to surgeries and procedures scheduled through April 15, the system said.
The system said in a statement that payments will be delayed with zero percent interest for a minimum of 60 days for “those patients who receive medical services and have been financially impacted with the loss of a job, lost wages or other financial distress resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to Executive Vice President and Chief Business Strategy Officer Richard Miller.
“We will delay payments for a minimum of 60 days for those impacted financially by this crisis and, as always, work with them afterwards,” Miller said. “The important thing to remember is that nobody should delay needed medical services because of their ability to pay. If you’re experiencing any kind of financial hardship whether it’s related to COVID-19 or other factors, the important thing is to contact us. We will always work with you.”