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Gloucester couple waiting on 'much needed' procedures as Northam extends ban on elective surgeries

Governor Northam imposed the ban on elective surgeries to reserve space in the state's healthcare system for coronavirus patients and PPE for medical providers.

RICHMOND, Va. — Gov. Ralph Northam extended a ban on non-emergency surgeries for another week. 

Northam's announcement on Thursday came the same day as a group representing more than 100 hospitals in Virginia asked him to allow the ban to expire Friday. 

Northam imposed the ban last month in an effort to reserve capacity in the state’s healthcare system for coronavirus patients and personal protective equipment for providers treating those patients. 

The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association sent Northam a letter saying state hospitals have enough capacity now to treat both coronavirus patients and elective surgery patients. 

The group said an estimated 60,000 Virginians have had their non-urgent medical procedures canceled over the past month. 

The Governor and State Health Commissioner are evaluating how to safely ease restrictions on non-essential medical procedures.

It's a crushing blow for many families across Virginia. A Gloucester woman, who didn't want to reveal her or her husband's identity, spoke with 13News Now on Friday.

She said they both had to postpone surgeries because of COVID-19, and for her husband, it's critical. She said she has issues in her chest that stem from having breast cancer. Her husband has cataracts. She said he was supposed to have surgery at the end of May, but because of the Governor's order, they're not sure when surgery will happen.

“Why can't he have his surgery, this isn't fair, my husband can go blind, his eye can't heal,” the woman said. “We're just putting our faith in God, in the God we believe in, not who thinks they're playing God.”

The public health emergency order does not apply to any procedure if the delay would cause harm to a patient. That would explain why the Gloucester woman said she’s seeing other people who are getting their surgery done during the pandemic.

“You need to look at who needs these surgeries and who doesn't,” the woman said. “So many people need surgeries, there's so many people who need these elective surgeries, there's a waiting list a mile long.”

“My top priority is protecting public health, and that includes ensuring that our frontline medical staff has the equipment they need to stay safe as they treat Virginians who are sick,” Governor Northam said. “We have increased our supply of PPE, but before we allow elective surgeries to resume, we must first be assured that the doctors, nurses, and medical staff who are fighting this virus or conducting emergency surgeries have the necessary supplies. We are working with medical facilities on plans to ensure that we can resume elective surgeries safely and responsibly.”

The ban on elective surgeries goes until May 1st. Hospitals are still treating emergency patients and performing essential surgeries.

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