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TidalHealth Peninsula Regional in Salisbury, MD announced a two-week pause on elective non-emergency surgeries that require an overnight stay, due to a surge in Covid-19 hospitalizations and a nurse shortage.
The pause includesTidalHealth Nanticoke in Seaford, which made the decision on Monday.
“TidalHealth has a set of criteria that examines physical bed capacity, unit-based staffing, critical care bed saturation, and the overall percentage of Covid positive patients based on our total admissions,” said Sarah Arnett, chief nursing officer at TidalHealth. “The trigger point to discuss reduction in elective procedures is when we have exceeded our defined thresholds in three or more criteria for several days, which we have.”
“We made this decision for the safety of our patients,” said Dr. Joseph Kim, president of Medical Staff at TidalHealth Nanticoke. “We do encourage everyone to receive a Covid-19 vaccination to reduce their chances of needing hospitalization as the Delta variant and other forms of COVID-19 continue to circulate in our area.”
In addition to the Delta variant surge, TidalHealth and hospitals across the nation are experiencing a significant shortage of nurses.
“Patients who are ill with Covid are contributing to put stress and significant demand on the limited resources of the Emergency Department, hospital floors and the ICU, and the vast majority who are getting sick enough with Covid to require hospitalization are unvaccinated,” said Mark Edney, MD, president of the Medical Staff at TidalHealth Peninsula Regional. “The subject of Covid vaccination has unfortunately become politicized, but there are some truths based on available community data and on current medical science that are indisputable.”
A reluctance persists in the region regarding vaccination with Wicomico County at 45%, Worcester County at 66% and Sussex County at 56%. Edney believes widespread misinformation and unfounded concerns not supported by evidence are key reasons for the low vaccination rates.
“What clearly is happening, however, is that unvaccinated people are getting Covid at an unprecedented rate, they are getting sick and are requiring hospitalization. This preventable stress on our already stressed healthcare system contributes to delays in care across the board, said Steve Leonard, TidalHealth CEO. “These delays affect those seeking care in the emergency room for a variety of non-Covid emergencies, and with the pausing of elective procedures requiring a hospital overnight stay, now new delays for our friends and neighbors who need surgery.”
Elective surgeries were postponed during the early phase of the pandemic throughout the nation but continued during the winter wave of cases.
The faster-spreading Delta variant has contributed to the latest wave of serious cases.