Providers in Arizona could soon see a rise in occupancy numbers thanks to Gov. Doug Ducey (R) rescinding restrictions that limited elective surges in the state. 

The governor made the move late last week in a series of executive orders that also included a loosening of visitation guidelines for residents in long-term care facilities.

Far fewer elective surgeries have been performed over the last 13 months, a major reason for record low occupancy in nursing and rehab centers across the industry since the pandemic’s onset early last year.

“With nearly three and a half million vaccine doses administered across Arizona, we’re on track to fighting off the pandemic and returning to normal,” Ducey said in a statement. “I’m grateful to the hospitals, medical professionals and long-term care facilities that prioritized Arizonans’ safety, and I’m looking forward to scaling back on measures that are no longer needed.”

Prior to the move, non-essential elective surgeries had been halted since March 2020. One month later, the governor allowed the procedures to resume but only if certain emergency preparedness criteria were met, such as having adequate staffing and enough personal protective equipment. Those limits were completely removed with Ducey’s latest order. 

“The resumption of elective surgeries will greatly help long term and post-acute providers recover from the economic crisis the pandemic has caused,” a spokeswoman for the American Health Care Health Care Association told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News on background Monday. 

“Occupancy has been at record lows due in part, to a lack of new patients coming from the hospital. Skilled nursing providers are eager and able to care for more of these individuals recuperating from operations,” the spokeswoman added.