Gephardt: Utah Surgeon Frustrated Some Hospitals Still Performing Elective Surgeries

Mar 22, 2020, 10:17 PM | Updated: 10:49 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — One Utah surgeon said he feels it’s “outrageous” that some hospital groups are not postponing all non-urgent, elective surgeries during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Ray Price works at both Intermountain Healthcare and the University of Utah Hospital. While he’s quick to say his opinions are his own, his opinions were strong.

“I think ‘outrageous’ is a good word,” Price said.

Last week, Jerome Adams, Surgeon General of the United States, urged hospitals to postpone elective surgeries to conserve medical equipment, which is in short supply. It’s also impossible to maintain social distance when doctors, nurses and a patient are crammed into an operating room.

That set off a kerfuffle in the medical community. Some hospitals agreed and hopped in line, while others pushed back.

The American Health Association fired off a letter saying they are “concerned” the recommendation is too broad.

“We agree that the crisis as it develops may require the curtailment of the least critical or time-sensitive hospital services, but any curtailment must be nuanced to meet the needs of all severely ill patients,” the letter read.

AHA officials added some elective care is “time-sensitive” and “medically necessary.”

But Price said he wonders whether the decision by some hospitals to proceed with some elective surgeries is influenced by economics.

“Not doing elective cases will have a major impact on the bottom line for many hospitals,” he said. “Do the right thing for the health of the community.”

“It is going to affect people’s bottom line and people’s revenue,” said Dr. Stephen Fenton, a pediatric surgeon at Primary Children’s Hospital, where elective surgeries have stopped.

He said without question, it’s a financial hit to the hospital. Still, he believes it’s the right thing to do.

“The enemy is at our gates and the only way that we’re going to be able to combat it is to do it together,” he said.

In Utah, both University of Utah Health and Intermountain Healthcare have publicly stated that all non-urgent elective surgeries have stopped.

A representative for Steward Health Care, which runs the Jordan Valley Hospital group in Utah, said they are following guidelines from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“During this pandemic, Steward Health Care remains committed — and able — to meet the essential, ongoing health care needs of its patients,” a spokesperson wrote. “Our responsibility, in consultation with our physicians and clinical professionals, is to determine how to most effectively care for COVID-19 patients while continuing to provide exceptional care to our communities and keep patients healthy and well.”

During a press conference Sunday afternoon announcing the first COVID-19 death in Utah, a representative for HCA MountainStar, which operates eight hospitals in Utah, including St. Mark’s Hospital, said they are also following federal guidelines on elective surgeries.

Guidance from CMS suggested some elective surgeries continue as planned at the doctor’s discretion – for example, a knee replacement if there could be future problems for the patient by waiting.

Coronavirus Resources

How Do I Prevent It?

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

The CDC does not recommend wearing a face mask respirator to protect yourself from coronavirus unless a healthcare professional recommends it.

How To Get Help

If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth services through your healthcare providers.

Additional Resources

If you see evidence of PRICE GOUGING, the Utah Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it. Common items in question include toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, certain household cleaners, and even cold medicine and baby formula. Authorities are asking anyone who sees price gouging to report it to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or 800-721-7233. The division can also be reached by email at consumerprotection@utah.gov.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

KSL Investigates

Mike Headrick and Cindy St. Clair, KSL TV

Shattered glass. Holes in walls. South Jordan man sues city for wrecking his home

How important is a single signature on a legal document? A South Jordan homeowner claims the wrong signature ended with firefighters causing significant damage to his house.
2 days ago
Photo of phone with Facebook app...
Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt: Facebook gives little to no help to users locked out by hackers

More and more, Get Gephardt is hearing from folks who have been locked out of their Facebook accounts by a hacker. Unable to get help from Facebook and desperate to get their identities back, they don’t know where else to turn.
3 days ago
Matt Gephardt and Cindy St. Clair, KSL TV

Get Gephardt: Husband sued for deceased wife’s unpaid medical bill

Just about a year after his wife died of cancer, Keith Zipprich said he was surprised when he, himself, was slapped with a lawsuit from a debt collector trying to collect on one of her unpaid medical bills.
4 days ago
Proch pirates and doorbell cameras...
Matt Gephardt & Sloan Schrage

Get Gephardt: Why you cannot rely on doorbell cameras to thwart porch pirates

Over a third of us have been hit by porch pirates in the past year according to a new study from ValuePenguin.com.
4 days ago
With only days to go before Christmas retailers are hoping consumers will shop generously. (Photo b...
Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Gephardt Busts Inflation: The tricks retailers will use to get us to open up our wallets

Of the thousands of Utahns who shopped for bargains on Black Friday, many likely bought a lot of stuff they really didn't plan to buy. And as KSL's Matt Gephardt explains, that's all by design.
5 days ago
KSL TV's Daniella Rivera (left) and Unified police detective Doug Lambert (right)....
Daniella Rivera and Annie Knox, KSL TV

The gift you shouldn’t give car burglars this holiday season

Holiday shoppers are darting around busy parking lots this time of year. So are thieves. Unified police told the KSL Investigators there's a new number one hot spot for car prowlers, but some simple steps can make sure they don't get the better of you.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Gephardt: Utah Surgeon Frustrated Some Hospitals Still Performing Elective Surgeries