September 28, 2022

A major healthcare provider is suspending ‘almost all surgeries’ because nurses are swamped with treating unvaxxed people with COVID

  • Intermountain Healthcare announced it would postpone “almost all surgeries” across several hospitals due to rising COVID-19 cases.

  • The suspensions will occur for “several weeks” across 13 out of 24 hospitals within the system.

  • “Our teams are overwhelmed and we’re running out of staffed beds for patients,” a press release from Intermountain said. 

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More than half of the hospitals within a major healthcare system in the western US region are suspending “almost all surgeries” for “several weeks” due to rising COVID-19 cases. 

Intermountain Healthcare, a major healthcare provider whose headquarters are in Utah, announced on Friday that it would postpone “all non-urgent surgeries and procedures requiring a hospital admission in our trauma and community hospitals” starting Wednesday. 

The system has 24 hospitals, 13 of which are expected to adhere to the suspension, according to the press release.

“This postponement starts September 15 and will last for several weeks. We will evaluate the situation on an ongoing basis,” the release says. 

Video: How the Delta variant has changed the course of the pandemic

Dr. Marc Harrison, CEO of Intermountain Healthcare, told CBS affiliate KUTV that half the system’s ICU beds are occupied by patients infected with COVID-19. An overwhelming majority of those patients – 90% – are unvaccinated, he said. 

“We need some drastic action in order to preserve the public health,” Harrison said. “The cavalry is not coming. We are the cavalry, and when I say ‘we,’ I mean the community as a whole.”

When asked by KUTV of his stance on a vaccine mandate, Harrison stopped short of an endorsement. 

“Our epidemiologic projection suggests we’re not even at the worst part yet,” he said. “We believe we’re going to need about 40 more ICU beds, and about 70 more general beds in the very near future. And guess what? We don’t have them.”

According to the press release, the hospitals are “at a critical point” due to large spikes in COVID-19 cases, particularly in Utah. 

“COVID-19 cases have continued to significantly increase in Utah-resulting in consistently high volumes in hospital ICUs and acute care units across our system,” the release says. “Our teams are overwhelmed and we’re running out of staffed beds for patients.”

Positive COVID-19 cases continue to spike in Utah, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Hospitalizations have also been on the rise since July. Just over half of Utah’s population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, JHU data says. 

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