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Intermountain to postpone surgeries at 13 sites due to virus surge

By Jamie Lampros - | Sep 13, 2021

BENJAMIN ZACK, Standard-Examiner file photo

McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden is pictured on Wednesday, May 30, 2018.

Because of the overwhelming volume of COVID-19 patients, 13 Intermountain hospitals will postpone all non-urgent surgeries and procedures requiring hospital admission beginning Wednesday. The postponement is expected to last several weeks.

Included on the list is McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, Layton Hospital, Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah Valley Hospital in Provo and LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City. Rural hospitals, The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital and Primary Children’s are not part of the list and will continue to do non-urgent surgeries and procedures for now.

Intermountain Healthcare president and CEO Dr. Marc Harrison said the hospitals are overwhelmingly packed with unvaccinated COVID-19 patients and not enough caregivers to keep up with the surge.

“We are facing a dire situation,” Harrison said. “It seems like an unending river of preventable illness running through our hospitals. We are reaching out for travel nurses and are hiring as fast as we can. It’s still not enough. This pause in surgery is going to be a challenge for you, your families and friends. A lot of people are going to be unhappy, scared and in some cases very miserable.”

During a press conference Friday announcing the surgery pause, Harrison said 350 COVID-19 patients were taking up space in company hospitals, the highest ever seen at one time. He said Intermountain is trying everything to maintain quality of care, but it’s not enough.

“I will remind you, for all the patients in the hospital right now with COVID, not a single patient is in the hospital with a complication of the vaccine,” Harrison said. “The vaccines are safe and effective and are saving lives every day. For folks who have chosen not to be vaccinated, we are seeing the implications to our public health system.”

AP Marc Harrison, president and CEO of Intermountain Healthcare, speaks during a news conference Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Harrison said many patients who need inpatient procedures are scared because they are unable to get them. One patient, he said, has had several stroke-like symptoms and is afraid of having a major stroke, but there is no room in the ICU for this patient. Other patients, including those with pinched nerves in their back who have lost the ability to use their legs, will have to wait to get their procedures because the bed they would normally get is being occupied with an unvaccinated COVID patient.

“When we went to medical school, nursing school, respiratory therapy and pharmacy school, we never thought we would have to ration care in the United States,” Harrison said. “Yet our neighbors have chosen not to get vaccinated. This disease has killed nearly 3,000 Utahns already. They won’t be here for Christmas or Thanksgiving. They won’t be attending weddings and if the vast majority of these folks had gotten the vaccine, they would be here today. Our plea to you is to get vaccinated. If you’re not worried about helping yourself, please choose to help your neighbors and family members.”

Harrison said it’s critical for people to seek out accurate information about the virus and the vaccine, or to seek out clinicians who are working in the trenches and listen to their stories.

“If you choose to not get the vaccine, be extraordinary careful. Wear a mask. We don’t want you to be another person whose life is ended by something that could have been prevented,” he said. “And we’re seeing it every day. Just the other day we had a gentleman come in. He was so sick. He was diagnosed with COVID and the team wished to admit him. He denied admission and denied COVID. He came back several hours later, arrested and died. Please don’t be one of these people. Your family needs you.”

The trauma and community hospitals where all non-urgent surgeries and procedures requiring a hospital admission will be postponed are:

  • Logan Regional
  • McKay-Dee (Ogden)
  • Layton Hospital
  • LDS Hospital (Salt Lake)
  • Intermountain Medical Center (Murray)
  • Riverton Hospital
  • Alta View (Sandy)
  • Park City Hospital
  • American Fork Hospital
  • Utah Valley (Provo)
  • Spanish Fork Hospital
  • Cedar City Hospital
  • St. George Regional

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