SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s two largest hospital systems have delayed elective surgeries and other non-urgent medical procedures to save space and equipment for future patients with the new coronavirus.
Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Health expect an influx of coronavirus patients in the coming weeks. Though most of the 41 people diagnosed have recovered at home so far, the path of the virus in other places like Italy indicates that Utah will experience a surge soon, authorities said Monday.
Patients who had planned surgeries or other procedures are expected to hear from their health-care providers about changes. Delays are expected to be for at least a few weeks, KSL reported.
Postponed procedures could range from a coloscopy for screening colon cancer to an internal assessment of injured knee, according to KUTV.
The move will keep hospital beds free and preserve protective equipment that’s in short supply around the country, hospital officials said. It will also allow doctors, nurses and patients to practice social distancing.
People with urgent needs and time-sensitive conditions like cancer will continue to get treatments, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
The new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms in most people, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.