Here's why most Bay Area hospitals are not canceling elective surgeries, despite COVID-19 surge

Laura Anthony Image
ByLaura Anthony KGO logo
Thursday, December 3, 2020
Most Bay Area hospitals not canceling elective surgeries
As of now, most Bay Area hospitals are not planning to cancel elective surgeries, and doctors are reminding the public not to delay care or be afraid to come into their hospitals for other potentially life-threatening medical issues.

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- As we're seeing in Santa Clara County, some California hospitals are nearing capacity due to the increase in coronavirus patients.

However, most other Bay Area hospitals are managing the capacity pretty well, so far.

"We've been dealing with this for almost a year now. In the beginning it was a lot more hectic," said Devery, a nurse on the COVID-19 floor at Walnut Creek's John Muir Medical Center.

RELATED: Bay Area surpasses 'summer surge' for most COVID-19 cases of pandemic

Although treatments and outcomes have improved for many in recent months, there are still patients who will lose the battle to the virus.

"We've had to deal with that quite a few times," said Devery, "and it's heartbreaking to being around other human beings, especially in their last moments of life and not being able to hold their hand or look at them in the eye."

Despite a surge in overall cases, so far most major hospitals in the Bay Area, including John Muir are weathering the storm.

"We are not at a place where we are overwhelming our current capacity," explained Michelle Lopes, Senior Vice President and Chief Nurse Executive for John Muir Health. "We have been preparing, ongoing for the last ten months, and so we have absolutely known that there would be another surge headed our way, but at this point it's very, very manageable."

RELATED: Couple arrested for boarding SFO flight to Hawaii after positive COVID-19 test

Sutter, UCSF, Stanford and Kaiser Permanente report they too still have adequate bed capacity and right now, there are no plans to cancel most elective surgeries.

Still, preparations are underway if things get worse. At John Muir's Walnut Creek campus, a temporary waiting room now sits outside the emergency entrance so patients can distance safely. It will be used only in the case of a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Despite the seriousness of the coronavirus situation, John Muir Health and others want to remind people not to delay care or be afraid to come into their hospitals for other potentially life-threatening medical issues.

"We have been working at this for 10 months and we are absolutely ready to keep everyone safe," said Lopes.

Devery told us he and his colleagues are ready to treat more COVID-19 patients, but they hoping to see fewer.

"You have to look at the greater good right now. That means wear a mask, socially distancing," said Devery. "Multiple vaccines should be coming out soon. You need to seriously consider taking them. You have to protect the general public in order to get over this virus."

If you have a question or comment about the coronavirus pandemic, submit yours via the form below or here.

Get the latest news, information and videos about the novel coronavirus pandemic here RELATED STORIES & VIDEOS: