What concerns Minnesota hospital workers about resuming elective surgeries

An orthopedic surgeon wraps a person's foot in a file photo. (Photo by: BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Starting Monday, the state of Minnesota loosened restrictions on elective surgeries amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but some hospital workers are concerned by the state’s latest move.

Voluntary medical procedures such as knee and hip replacement surgeries were put on hold back in late March.

The Minnesota Nurses Association is concerned by this move because there is still a shortage of personal protection equipment.

The initial pause of elective procedures went into place about a month ago, but Gov. Tim Walz’s newest executive order allows them again, so long as facilities ensure patient and staff safety first.

Some patients may now be required to take a test for COVID-19 prior to surgery. Some hospitals may even change entrances to buildings to reduce exposure.

“I get it, we need to have the revenue,” said Mary Turner, of the Minnesota Nurses Association. “We just want it to be done safely and we don’t want to have to compromise any more than we already are, because I’ll tell you right now, we are not doing isolation, protective equipment the way that we learned in our nursing books by any means.”

Turner said she’s worried about the shortage of PPE that already exists.

“We have a very natural concern that if we go back to business as usual with surgeries, we won’t have enough protective equipment," Turner added.

The Minnesota Hospital Association says it is monitoring the situation. As more and more facilities begin opening doors to more patients, the MHA says safety remains a priority.

When the state stopped elective surgeries, the move resulted in layoffs. Each hospital and health system will be making staffing decisions based on patient needs and supply availability.