MURRAY, Utah (ABC4 News) – A dramatic rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations has Intermountain Healthcare taking what they call “drastic action” to preserve public health. Beginning next week, non-urgent surgeries will be postponed at several hospitals statewide.
This action will delay hundreds of surgeries for people in pain. Intermountain Healthcare President Marc Harrison said while it’s not what they want to do, it’s what they have to do, with a shortage of beds and staff.
“Our epidemiologic predictions suggest we’re not even at the worst part yet,” Harrison said.
Harrison said Intermountain Healthcare models predict in the near future, its hospitals will need 40 more intensive care unit beds and about 70 more general medical beds.
“And guess what? We just don’t have them,” Harrison said.
Of COVID-19 patients at Intermountain Healthcare, Harrison said they currently take up half of their hospital beds in the state, and there are not enough caretakers.
He said the situation is becoming dire.
Now, 13 hospitals, ranging from Logan to St. George, will begin pausing non-urgent surgeries on September 15.
Rural hospitals, TOSH, and Primary Children’s will continue to perform non-urgent surgeries and procedures requiring hospital admission. These facilities may postpone some cases as needed depending on the circumstances.
“The surgical cases we’re going to pause are not minor procedures that are trivial or purely elective,” says Harrison. “These are urgent, but not immediately life-threatening cases.”
This procedure pause, he said, will affect many Utahns.
“You are going to get to wait for that procedure because we don’t have a bed because it is filled with an unvaccinated person with COVID,” Harrison said.
He then shared an example of non-urgent surgeries.
“Each of you who’s watching this has a friend or family member who’s going to be in a car wreck or a bike accident or develop an overwhelming infection completely unrelated to COVID and we’re not going to have the capacity to take care of them,” says Harrison. “This feels very sad to me.”
Harrison said he hopes those who have not yet been vaccinated will choose to get the shot and be a part of the solution rather than the problem.
This pause begins next week for the foreseeable future, and Harrison said Intermountain Healthcare will resume once the surge settles.
Intermountain Healthcare says that any patient affected by the postponements will be directly notified by telephone.