Coronavirus CA: Bay Area hospitals to delay elective surgeries, limit visitors ahead of COVID-19 crisis

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ByLaura Anthony KGO logo
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
Bay Area hospitals delay elective surgeries, limit visitors ahead of COVID-19 crisis
Hospitals in the Bay Area are urging people to limit non-essential hospital visits to keep spaces open for coronavirus patients and also help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- Bay Area hospitals have been on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis from the early stages and are still holding on, at least for now.

While it's not business as usual at any Bay Area Hospital, the head of emergency services at Walnut Creek's John Muir Medical Center says his team is keeping up with it's patient load, coronavirus related or otherwise.

"We're actually doing well," said Dr. Russell Rodriguez M.D. "We have everything we need in terms of equipment for our staff and we have enough beds for the patients coming in, so we're actually in a pretty good spot."

Like most hospitals in the area though, John Muir is cancelling most elective surgeries. So are Sutter Hospitals and Kaiser Permanente facilities in Northern California.

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"We've been monitoring the situation since January," explained Michelle Gaskill-Hames, Kaiser Permanente's Senior Vice-President for Hospital and Health Plan Operations, Northern California.

Kaiser has 21 medical centers in the Bay Area, each with it's own command center.

The group's big objective is to keep patients who don't need emergency or hospital care away from the medical centers.

"Our message to our members is to ensure that they call before they come in," said Gaskill-Hames, "and we really want to leverage tele-visits and video visits if we don't really need to have a physical appointment."

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Some nurses in the the Bay Area have told ABC7News they don't have enough masks, a vital part of the personal protection equipment. But most hospital officials we talked with told us they're well-supplied, at least for now.

"We have been careful in our use," said John Muir's Rodriguez, "But we are providing our staff with all the equipment that they need and we have enough to maintain the current functioning of the system without a problem."