Bassett Healthcare Network Announces Conservation Strategies for PPE and COVID-19 Testing Amid Pandemic Response

The extraordinary demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 testing during the current pandemic has resulted in extreme shortages worldwide. For this reason, Bassett Healthcare Network, which serves an eight-county region in central New York, announced today the implementation of strategies to conserve supplies across its system.

“Effective immediately, we are prioritizing hospitalized patients for COVID-19 testing and also postponing all non-essential medical, surgical and dental procedures,” said Bassett Healthcare Network President and CEO William F. Streck, MD. “These are extreme measures for an extraordinary time and it is still quite early in this pandemic. We must take action now.”

COVID-19 testing supplies

The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has resulted in an extreme shortage of materials needed to conduct the test. In order to assure it is available to those who absolutely must be tested, Bassett Healthcare Network is prioritizing the most vulnerable patients for COVID-19 testing.

“The global shortage of chemicals and other materials needed to conduct coronavirus testing is forcing us to take this next step,” explained Network Chief Clinical Officer Steven Heneghan, MD. “We can no longer test everyone who has possible coronavirus symptoms; instead, we will now limit testing to hospitalized patients who are symptomatic for COVID-19.”

Bassett has several sites around the network set up for individuals who are concerned that their upper respiratory illness might be the coronavirus. Heneghan says the external evaluation areas will remain, but COVID-19 testing will not be available at those locations. Appointments are still required – people should call 607-547-5555 if they would like an evaluation of their symptoms.

“As is typical during this time of year in our region, we are seeing and treating many individuals with the flu and common cold, as well as those suspected to have COVID-19,” explained Heneghan. “Our evaluation process through a call to 607-547-5555 allows people to get some questions answered about the new coronavirus and, if symptomatic and appropriate, medical advice on next steps.”

Postponement of elective procedures

Bassett Healthcare Network also announced today that in accordance with federal recommendations from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), all elective surgeries are being postponed during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes non-essential medical, surgical and dental procedures at all network hospitals and outpatient surgical facilities. 

Urgent (e.g. cancer procedures) and emergency surgeries will continue to be performed.

CMS announced its recommendations March 18, 2020, and in its statement said, “As more healthcare providers are increasingly being asked to assist with the COVID-19 response, it is critical that they consider whether non-essential surgeries and procedures can be delayed so they can preserve personal protective equipment (PPE), beds, and ventilators.”

Heneghan said, “We have been calling patients to let them know we will be rescheduling non-essential procedures. This will help curb the spread of the virus and help assure our health care workforce is available to those patients who urgently need medical care. Delaying elective procedures also allows us to redistribute resources and focus on preparing for a possible sudden influx of patients due to COVID-19.”

Patients with questions regarding procedures they had scheduled may contact their practitioner.

For more information about COVID-19 and Bassett’s response, visit www.bassett.org/covid-19.