Michigan Health Officials and Lawmakers Call for Gov. Whitmer to Allow Elective Surgeries

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Posted: May 01, 2020 10:35 AM
Michigan Health Officials and Lawmakers Call for Gov. Whitmer to Allow Elective Surgeries

Source: AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

Medical leaders and lawmakers in Michigan are calling on Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) to ease restrictions in her stay-at-home order in order to allow hospitals to permit elective surgeries for patients in need. 

Michigan’s Senate pressed Gov. Whitmer to allow elective surgeries, which are often classified as “non-essential,” as hospitals in Michigan have been forced to lay off staff members. Though technically, “non-essential,” postponing elective surgeries can have devastating effects on patients and the efficiency of the healthcare system, as Michigan Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton) said during discussion of SR 111:

“The word ‘elective’ might imply unnecessary, but in reality, there are thousands living with serious knee or hip pain, with cataracts or dental problems.” 

Hillsdale Hospital’s CEO, Jeremiah J. Hodshire, agreed and told Gov. Whitmer that rural hospitals bear the brunt of financial hurt with her order’s restrictions:

“Blanket restrictions in your executive orders have placed our small, rural hospital in the same standing as those in large, highly-populated areas like Detroit, busy with 75 percent of the state’s COVID-19 patients. The most devastating order required closure of every hospital operating room to elective procedures, even while 22 Michigan counties have less than ten confirmed COVID-19 cases...Typically, hospitals receive 20 to 30 percent of their net revenue from the operating room, including emergency and elective surgeries.  For us, general surgery accounts for 12 percent of our gross revenue and 20 percent of our net revenue. Within just the last month and a half, our losses from surgery coupled with the stock market decline and projected lower patient volumes in all areas over the next three months create a $10 million shortfall for our fiscal year ending June 30,” he wrote in a letter to Gov. Whitmer.

Under Gov. Whitmer’s order, “non-essential” surgeries encompasses a broad range of procedures, many of which are necessary and time-sensitive, as Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan (D) pointed out, per Fox2 Detroit:

“We have people who aren’t going to the doctor to take care of their diabetes. We’ve got people with heart issues who have not gone in for angioplasty. We have people who have been told you’ve got a lump and they haven’t gone in to get a biopsy for their cancer,” he said. “Angioplasty is not elective surgery. You may not need it today, but if you don’t get it - you’re going to be at risk.”

As Gov. Whitmer sought approval for an extension of her stay-at-home order, state lawmakers voted instead to proceed with a lawsuit against the governor.

The backlash toward Gov. Whitmer’s order grows, and comes from both Republicans and Democrats while Michiganders suffer at the hands of her overreach.

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