Governor announces lifted restrictions for elective procedures in hospitals, clinics


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Many hospitals and clinics make the majority of their money from elective, non-emergency procedures. The COVID-19 outbreak brought a halt to these throughout the state. Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Wednesday that restrictions will be lifted early next week.

“We’re really excited,” said Dr. Lance Manning, an ear/nose/throat surgeon based in Springdale. “Everyone’s been wanting to get back to work.”

Save for emergency procedures, the state’s been clear during this outbreak in limiting what services hospitals and clinics provide. Manning said telehealth has opened things up a bit, but the workload certainly took a big hit.

“We’ve been delayed in being able to care for more-routine things, and a lot of that’s been voluntary,” Manning said. “We have 11 providers. I know that we were down to about 20 to 30 percent of what we would normally do.”

Some Northwest Arkansas hospital and clinic employees are currently furloughed or laid off, but Manning said he and his crew have been lucky.

“We’ve tried to keep everyone employed, frankly. That’s been nice,” Manning said. “It’s nice that since we’ve been able to do that, we’ll be able to ramp back up and take care of people really quickly.”

So, Hutchinson’s announcement was welcomed by the Northwest Arkansas medical community.

“I’m pleased to announce today…we are lifting the restrictions on elective procedures in Arkansas hospitals and clinics,” Hutchinson said.

The restrictions will be lifted April 27, but Manning said he’ll start a little later.

“For me personally, it’s probably gonna be the following week, the week of May 4,” Manning said. “We’ll do some things next week.”

Hutchinson’s touted May 4 as the starting point for reopening some of Arkansas’ economy and lifting other restrictions, and this is earlier than that day. Manning said safety is a priority.

“Do we have the protective equipment that we need in the area? We do,” Manning said. “Do we have the accommodations with respect to hospital beds and ICU beds? We do.”

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