NIH hospital to postpone surgeries as COVID-19 sidelines staff

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The U.S. National Institutes of Health is postponing elective surgeries at its hospital in Bethesda, Md., as dozens of staff must isolate or quarantine, Reuters reported Dec. 29.

Reuters reviewed an email memo James Gilman, MD, CEO of the NIH Clinical Center, sent to staff Dec. 29 stating that elective surgeries would be delayed beginning the week of Jan. 2, 2022. At least 80 clinical center employees called in sick on Dec. 29 alone because of COVID-19 infections or exposures.

"The situation has gotten a little bit worse each day," Dr. Gilman wrote. "If there is any good news, it may be that the omicron peak should be rapid and we can get back to business as usual soon. However, we cannot do business as usual next week."

An NIH spokesperson told Reuters that the NIH does not currently have staff shortages, but that Dr. Gilman is "proactively making changes in anticipation of potential shortages."

NIH's clinical center has 200 inpatient beds, 11 operating rooms and nearly 2,000 federal employees.

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