Mid-South hospital systems slow down elective surgeries in light of new COVID-19 cases

Methodist suspends elective procedures

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Two hospital systems in Memphis announced temporary slowdowns to elective procedures in response to increases in the number of patients with COVID-19.

Officials with Methodist Lebonheur Healthcare said the elective procedures were pulled system-wide Monday and Tuesday. Hospital officials said they have not yet made a decision about the rest of this week.

In a late-afternoon news conference, the hospital system says it set a record for hospitalized patients with the virus Monday at 219.

Hospital officials told WMC Action News 5 the decision on elective procedures was made last week, saying the time around Thanksgiving is traditionally a busy time at the hospital. They added the increased stress on the system of COVID-19 patients made them want to free up staffers involved with those elective procedures to be able to relieve other departments.

They acknowledged Monday that elective procedures is one tool they have to ration hospital resources.

“When we start feeling these pressure points and looking at our capacity, then where we have to control is what we can control, which is the elective procedures that require hospitalization after the procedure,” said Dr. Richard Aycock, Chief of Staff at Methodist Lebonheur Healthcare.

Dr. Steve Threlkeld, an infectious disease specialist at Baptist, said Monday afternoon the system is limiting elective procedures at Baptist Memphis. Baptist has designated a committee with physicians and administrators to determine which procedures can advance and which ones should be held off.

Threlkeld said Baptist Memphis is looking to delay procedures that would require an overnight hospital day, meaning some same-day procedures would still be allowed.

“The whole purpose of those types of things is to free up beds and resources. Like anything else in this pandemic, you have to do that in a multi-modality fashion. And we’re doing that in a lot of different ways,” he said.

A spokesperson at Regional One said the hospital system was not making any changes to its operations at this time.

A spokesperson for Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare, which runs St. Francis hospitals, said they have made no changes to elective procedures at this time.

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