Nebraska health systems limit elective procedures amid COVID-19 surge

Methodist Health System, Nebraska Medicine and CHI Health, all based in Omaha, Neb., have limited elective or nonurgent surgeries as COVID-19 cases rise in the state.

Methodist Health System began postponing elective surgeries within the health system Oct. 29 at Methodist Hospital, president and CEO Steve Goeser shared with Becker's via email.

Mr. Goeser said the four-hospital system is reviewing the surgery schedule to determine which ones can be postponed safely, at least for a few days or weeks, without adversely affecting patients.

"It allows us to better manage bed capacity for not only COVID-19 patients but others that are in need of our care," said Mr. Goeser. "We are still tending to those who are having cardiac issues, dealing with a cancer diagnosis, diabetes, etc. Our goal is to care for everyone who is experiencing a healthcare issue."

As of Nov. 3, the health system had more than 70 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, up from more than 50 the week prior.

Nebraska Medicine told Becker's it is not limiting specific surgeries but is limiting certain procedures that are not urgent, on a case-by-case basis.

"We've decided to limit nonurgent surgeries because of a surge in COVID hospitalizations which are causing us to open more COVID-specific units which need more specialized care," the health system said in an emailed statement Nov. 3. "While we have enough beds to handle more patients, high-level ICU providers aren't an infinite resource."

CHI Health reported 208 COVID-19 positive patients in 14 CHI Health hospitals, including 51 in the ICU and 20 on ventilators, as of Nov. 3.

Amid the COVID-19 surge, some nonurgent procedures may be postponed starting this week, said Cliff Robertson, MD, CHI Health CEO and senior vice president of operations for Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health's Midwest division, during a media call Nov. 3.

The health system said decisions about postponing procedures will be made based on patient medical needs and whether those needs can be postponed a couple of weeks.

By postponing some surgeries, CHI Health said it aims to free up beds and capacity for patients.


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