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Intermountain May Postpone Some Elective Surgeries Due To COVID-19 Spike


SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Officials with Intermountain Healthcare said some elective surgeries requiring inpatient admission may be postponed “to conserve intensive medicine resources and help reduce hospital capacity” as COVID-19 cases and subsequent hospitalizations surge across Utah.

Intermountain officials said the health care system’s postponements are part of the surge plan developed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As surge plans are activated at Intermountain hospitals in response to rising cases, some surgeries that require an inpatient admission after surgery but can be safely postponed may be delayed,” officials said in a release. “This will free up space and beds, preserve supplies, and free up caregivers to treat COVID-19 and non-COVID patients who need health services.”

Any patient directly impacted by the change will be contacted and postponed surgeries will be rescheduled after the surge subsides.

Urgent situations and emergency patients will still be able to receive care.

“Our intent is to continue to provide surgical care where possible and make adjustments as needed as our resources get stressed,” said Dr. Ferguson, Intermountain’s senior medical director of surgical operations. “Rather than introduce a blanket postponement of cases like we did in the spring, we have a fine-tuned process at each hospital that allows us greater precision in balancing the surgical needs of our patients with the resources available at each hospital.”

On Wednesday, Utah reported over 3,000 new cases of COVID-19 and a record 541 hospitalizations due to the virus.

The state’s seven-day average of new cases has passed 3,100 and the seven-day average of percent of positive laboratory tests was 24.1%.

Utah’s ICUs were 84.6% full as of Wednesday, including patients regardless of cause. ICU beds at the state’s referral centers, which are better equipped to treat COVID-19 patients, were 89.9% occupied, which is above the 85% threshold for quality ICU care.

“Intermountain is asking Utahns to mask up, social distance, wash hands and stay home when sick to help slow the spread of disease,” officials said. “Utahns are also asked to limit family gatherings for Thanksgiving to those living in their immediate household.”

According to the Utah Department of Health, the majority of the spread – more than 56% – is happening from a known contact. The highest count of cases reporting exposures are coming from the household (27.5%), and the second-highest counts are coming from social settings (10.5%), which makes potential holiday gatherings a concern.

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