May 15, 2020: Statement of Cathy Bennett, NJHA President and CEO, on Resumption of Elective Hospital Procedures

“Gov. Murphy’s action today is necessary for the health of the people of our state. Individuals awaiting a scheduled surgery, or living with pain or chronic conditions, or in need of a procedure to diagnose an illness, have been in limbo for eight weeks. It’s essential that New Jersey residents receive medically necessary care before their conditions grow worse. The COVID-19 crisis will be compounded if we have ongoing harm to people’s health and well-being by delays in needed care.

“We respect the Governor’s approach to a responsible reopening, including his “data determines dates” litmus test. We agree – and the data shows that it’s time for hospitals to fully reopen their doors to people awaiting care. The reality is, New Jersey hospitals never stopped caring for their communities – even while rising to the challenges of COVID-19. Our hospitals treated more than 350,000 non-COVID patients during March and April. In fact, COVID cases represented just 20 percent of hospital inpatients statewide last month. Hospitals have rebounded with the space, staffing and supplies needed to care for patients safely. They are ready to be part of New Jersey’s recovery. 

“Hospitals and their care teams are taking extraordinary precautions to care for all in a safe environment. They have established procedures to protect patients and staff such as reconfigured spaces for social distancing, health screenings for people entering, and teams of professionals dedicated to infection control, among others.

“Our hospitals are here to care – safely and effectively. For anyone who has delayed needed medical care, please talk to your physician or other primary care provider. And if you experience a health emergency, call 911 or go to the closest emergency room. Don’t wait. Your health is far too valuable.”