SALT LAKE CITY, UT. (ABC 4) – A spike in COVID-19 cases is putting a strain on hospitals across the state as they’re running out of staffed beds for patients. The situation has become so dire that one of the largest healthcare systems is postponing hundreds of surgeries starting next week.
Intermountain Healthcare is postponing all non-urgent surgeries and procedures requiring a hospital admission or postoperative inpatient monitoring in our trauma and community hospitals. This postponement starts September 15 and will last for several weeks, according to President & CEO Dr. Marc Harrison.
“To be quite honest, today is a day that I wish had never come,” Harrison said.
On Friday, Intermountain Healthcare announced they no longer have the staff or room to take care of people with serious conditions in 13 of their trauma and community hospitals. This includes Logan Regional, McKay-Dee, Layton, LDS Hospital, Intermountain Medical Center, Riverton, Alta View, Park City, American Fork, Utah Valley, Spanish Fork, Cedar City and St. George.
However, rural hospitals, TOSH, and Primary Children’s will continue to do non-urgent surgeries and procedures requiring a hospital admission. These facilities may postpone some cases as needed depending on circumstances, according to Intermountain.
“We believe we’re going to need about 40 more ICU beds and about 70 more general medical beds in the very near future. And guess what? We just don’t have them. We are facing a dire situation,” Harrison said.
Harrison said hundreds of non-urgent surgeries are being postponed. Obviously, there is a gray area between what is considered urgent and what is not.
“The surgical cases we’re going to pause are not minor procedures that are trivial. They are purely elective,” Harrison said.
He said these are urgent but not immediately life-threatening cases.
“I know of a patient who has disease in one of the major arteries in their neck, it’s partly accoladed, they’re having many stroke symptoms and they’re scared to death that they’re going to have the big stroke that is going to change their life forever or end their life. We don’t have an ICU bed to put them in,” Harrison said.
ABC4 has learned that Mammography and trauma cases will still be treated along with any life-threatening injuries. However, if you have cancer, get in a car wreck or can’t walk because of a pinched nerve, you’re likely going to wait.
“We apologize in advance for the pain that you’re going to feel, the anxiety you’re going to feel as you’re waiting for that to happen,” Harrison said.
While Intermountain doesn’t know exactly when they’ll start rescheduling these surgeries, they expect this to last for at least several weeks. In the meantime, they’re pleading with Utahns to get vaccinated if they haven’t already.
“If you’re not worried about helping yourself, please choose to help your neighbors. Please choose to help your family members, please choose to help that friend who is going to have a heart attack. Make sure that she or he has a bed to get better in,” Harrison said.
Any patient affected by the postponements will be directly notified by telephone, according to Intermountain.
Harrison said Intermountain has already taken steps to decrease inpatient surgeries in recent weeks.
“In the last week, we’ve postponed 150 procedures and converted another 153 procedures from inpatient to outpatient. We are trying everything we can think of to maintain normal quality of care and it is not enough,” Harrison said.
Until this surge subsides, hundreds of non-urgent surgeries are going to be postponed. Harrison said they will reschedule them as quickly as they can.