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Doctors And Hospitals Call For Restarting Surgeries, DeSantis Says He's Considering It

Mark Hillary

Florida hospital and physician groups are asking Governor Ron DeSantis to allow them to restart surgeries. They say the reason DeSantis suspended the practices via executive order—to preserve medical supplies—has passed.

In a letter sent to DeSantis Tuesday the Florida Medical Association, a physicians' group, says thousands of people have seen postponements in their treatments for kidney failure, heart disease, and cancer because of the executive order. The organization warns a second crisis is brewing: more emergencies and deaths from people who’ve gone untreated or had their treatments delayed.

"Many of the physician practices that would deal with this pent-up demand have seen their revenues plunge and face imminent closure. It is essential for the health and safety of all Floridians that the state do all it can to keep these practices open," FMA President Ronald Giffler wrote in the letter.

The Safety Net Hospital Alliance and HCA Hospitals are in agreement about restarting urgent and elective procedures sooner, rather than later. They say they can restart such surgeries as soon as April 25th under guidelines recently issued by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The hospitals on Monday sent a proposal for restarting surgeries to the governor for consideration. The proposal includes hospitals maintaining a stockpile of personal protective equipment, COVID and non-COVID patients staying separated, and practitioners and patients testing negative for the coronavirus prior to surgery.

“That absolutely has to happen. I can’t tell you when it’s going to happen but it’s something I’m committed to getting it done," said Gov. Ron DeSantis when asked about the FMA's letter.

The rate of positive COVID-19 cases has decreased in recent weeks even as the state continues to expand testing. Predicted surges in hospitalizations have not panned out and DeSantis has convened a task force as the state begins to consider a phased-in reopening of businesses and public spaces.

Copyright 2020 WFSU

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas. She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. When she’s not working, Lynn spends her time watching sci-fi and action movies, writing her own books, going on long walks through the woods, traveling and exploring antique stores. Follow Lynn Hatter on Twitter: @HatterLynn.