Kaiser Permanente has announced that it is postponing “elective and non-urgent surgeries and procedures” until Jan. 4 at its Northern California hospitals, as the increase in COVID-19 cases continues to pack hospital rooms and ICUs.
Other Bay Area hospitals, including the Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose and the John Muir Medical Center in Concord and Walnut Creek, have issued similar statements. Sutter Health, which operates hospitals and surgical centers in Berkeley, Antioch and Burlingame, has not made any formal announcement, but it is keeping a close eye on the situation, a spokesman said Monday.
On Christmas Day, California surpassed 2 million cases of coronavirus as the country continued a holiday weekend of family gatherings that could exacerbate the worst pandemic so far. By Sunday, the Bay’s ICU capacity was 11.1 percent.
The John Muir Medical Center is surgically canceling until January 10 in its operating rooms and cardiac catheterization laboratories that require a hospital bed.
“The re-creation of all elective measures and procedures enables us to redeploy greater flexibility with staff resources to areas of our hospitals where it is most needed, as we continue to see an increase in COVID-19 patients,” the statement said.
The stopped Kaiser procedures do not include cancer cases, suspected cancer cases or other urgent surgeries and procedures, “as well as any situation in which the postponement of an operation will have a negative effect on the patient’s medical condition, including pain,” Kaiser Permanente confirmed by email to the San Jose Mercury News.
In addition to the increased hospital bed capacity, Kaiser plans to secure travel nurses to help with the higher-than-normal winter hospitals.
A spokeswoman for Good Samaritan Hospital said she was unsure when the hospital would return to non-urgent procedures. They will continue to monitor the situation to make sure they focus their efforts on fighting the virus, as the numbers that come in keep rising.
“We are a busy ER as it is,” Sarah Sherwood said in an email. “It’s after Christmas, and if we have another big boom, we’ll have to do it.”