COVID-19 surge: Bay Area hospitals rescheduling some elective surgeries

Some hospitals say they want to be ready for a possible surge in patients after Christmas.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020
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With coronavirus cases surging, many Bay Area hospitals are opting to reschedule elective, or non-time sensitive surgeries, to make sure they have enough beds.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- With coronavirus cases surging, Bay Area hospitals are starting implement plans to make sure they have enough beds, and enough nurses and doctors to take care of the patients in them.

"We are rescheduling anything that can wait," said Michelle Lopes, Chief Nursing Executive with John Muir Health.

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Decisions at John Muir Medical Center are being made case-by-case, based more on urgency than on whether something is traditionally "elective."

"Probably the easiest way to think of it is something that's not time-sensitive," explained Lopes.

"So example, for some patients, a total hip replacement, if they're completely immobile and unable to move could be urgent."

Sutter Health announced its hospitals are also making "adjustments" to non-urgent surgery schedules.

VIDEO: Kaiser postpones non-urgent surgeries in Northern California due to COVID-19 surge

As of now, University of California San Francisco Medical Center is not cancelling elective procedures, but the situation could change.

Stanford Health is also going ahead with elective procedures that do no require a hospital bed, while Kaiser Permanente is delaying many as a response to California's COVID-19 surge.

"We're still doing surgeries, for instance, with cancer, with urgent procedures. We're doing emergent procedures that need to be done," said Dr. Michael Vollmer with Kaiser Permanente, "But things that can be delayed, even for a week or two, until we can get this surge under control in the state."

RELATED: California has 2nd highest COVID-19 daily case rate in the US

At John Muir, the decision to scale back on elective surgeries comes after the system's two hospitals have seen a tripling of coronavirus patients since Thanksgiving.

John Muir now has more than 100 hospitalized coronavirus patients, its highest number since the pandemic began.

"We know that people gathered. We're already seeing the impact significantly from Thanksgiving and we're preparing for the impact from Christmas," said Lopes, who implored the public to follow stay-at-home orders until the crisis subsides.

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