TidalHealth Peninsula Regional temporarily pauses elective surgeries and procedures requiring an overnight stay September 13
TidalHealth Peninsula Regional and the surgeons practicing there announced today that there will be a temporary pause in elective, non-emergency surgeries that require an overnight stay for at least a two-week period starting Monday, September 13. All non-emergency, non-life-threatening surgeries requiring an overnight stay will be evaluated by a multidisciplinary clinical team and those that can be postponed will be. Patients affected by the pause are being notified ahead of time by their surgeon’s office.
Several factors have combined recently to put stress on hospital staffing levels and hospital bed capacity at both TidalHealth hospitals in Salisbury and Seaford. While the pause in elective surgeries is only at TidalHealth Peninsula Regional, the same criteria is being evaluated daily with physician leadership at TidalHealth Nanticoke.
“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, DNP, MS, RN, NEA-BC, 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.”
In addition to the Delta variant surge, TidalHealth and hospitals across the nation are experiencing a significant shortage of nurses. A number have decided to leave the profession over the past several months for a variety of reasons, and while TidalHealth is taking action to support appropriate nursing levels today, it is working with local nursing schools to increase the supply of newly trained nurses for the future.
“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, MBA, 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.”
Dr. Edney points to the safety of the vaccine. Hundreds of millions of doses have been delivered worldwide with only a very small number of adverse reactions, which is witnessed with any vaccine deployment. Further, there remains a reluctance in the region to vaccination with Wicomico County at 45%, Worcester County at 66% and Sussex County at 56%. Dr. Edney believes widespread misinformation and unfounded concerns not supported by the 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, added Steve Leonard, PhD, MBA, FACHE, 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.”
Talented and incredibly dedicated healthcare teams, like those at TidalHealth, are reacting heroically to the challenges, but there is something that everyone in the region can do immediately to assist them. “If you’re not vaccinated, get vaccinated, and if you are, encourage an unvaccinated friend, family member or loved one to get vaccinated,” added Dr. Edney. “It is the most community-minded thing anyone can do right now.”
TidalHealth will continuously evaluate the current staffing and capacity issues so that this suspension of elective procedures and surgeries requiring an overnight stay can be lifted as soon as it’s safe to do so.