Big hospitals, including Kaiser, postpone non-urgent surgeries into January

Over the weekend, Kaiser Permanente announced that it is postponing “elective and non-urgent surgeries and procedures” through Jan. 4 at its hospitals in Northern California as a rise in COVID-19 cases continues to pack hospital rooms and ICUs.
Other Bay Area hospitals, including Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose and John Muir Medical Center in Concord and Walnut Creek, have put out similar statements. Sutter Health, which operates hospitals and surgical centers in Berkeley, Antioch and Burlingame, has made no formal announcement, but it is closely monitoring the situation, a spokesperson said Monday.
On Christmas Day, California surpassed 2 million coronavirus cases as the country continued a holiday weekend of family gatherings that could exacerbate the pandemic’s worst surge so far. By Sunday, the Bay Area’s ICU capacity was 11.1 percent.
John Muir Medical Center is cancelling and rescheduling elective surgeries through Jan. 10 in its operating rooms and cardiac catheterization labs that require an inpatient hospital bed.
“Rescheduling all elective surgeries and procedures allows us greater flexibility with staffing resources to redeploy them to areas of our hospitals where they are needed most as we continue to see an increase in COVID-19 patients,” the statement said.
The halted Kaiser procedures do not include cancer cases, presumed cancer cases or other urgent surgeries and procedures, “as well as any situation in which postponing surgery would have a negative impact on the patient’s medical condition, including pain,” Kaiser Permanente confirmed in an emailed statement to the San Jose Mercury News.
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In addition to increased hospital bed capacity, Kaiser is planning to secure travel nurses to help with the higher-than-normal winter hospitalizations.
A spokesperson for Good Samaritan Hospital said she is unsure when the hospital will return to non-urgent procedures. They will keep monitoring the situation to make sure they focus efforts on combatting the virus, as the numbers that are coming in keep climbing.
“We are a busy ER as it is,” Sarah Sherwood said in an email. “It is post-Christmas and if we have another large surge we will need to continue to do so.”

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