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Intermountain postpones non-urgent surgeries again amid COVID-19 surge

FILE: Intermountain's Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George, Utah. (KSL-TV)

MURRAY, Utah — Some 13 Intermountain Healthcare hospitals plan to once again postpone a number of non-urgent surgeries amid a surge in COVID-19 cases across the state of Utah. 

Surgeries postponed at Intermountain as COVID-19 counts rise

Dr. Mark Harrison, President and CEO of Intermountain, made the announcement in a video news conference on Friday. The non-urgent surgeries in question are those that require a hospital stay. Starting Sept. 15, the 13 Intermountain hospitals will postpone those surgeries by at least a few weeks. They include the following facilities:

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

“We do not have the capacity at this point in time to take care of people with very urgent conditions yet are not immediately life-threatening,” he said. 

He worries about people in accidents or suffering a severe infection in the coming weeks. 

“And we’re not going to have the capacity to take care of them,” Harrison said. 

Related: Primary Children’s Hospital plea to parents: take COVID-19 seriously

Thursday, the Utah Department of Health reported more than 500 COVID-19 patients in hospitals statewide, a number consistent with the levels the state saw back in January at the height of the pandemic. Of the 516 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 statewide, 191 require intensive care treatment. Nearly 90% are unvaccinated, Harrison said — and surprisingly young compared to earlier in the pandemic. 

“87% of the people who are in our hospitals with COVID are unvaccinated. They’re about 20 years younger than the vaccinated patients,” he said. 

Many hospitals across the state, including Intermountain facilities, postponed “elective” or non-emergency surgeries in 2020 because of COVID-19 and its strain on health care networks. 

A risk-reducing cancer surgery may get postponed

One woman talked to KSL Newsradio about her potentially life-saving surgery which she said might get postponed after Intermountain’s announcement today. 

Elizabeth, who didn’t want her last name revealed, said she has a deleterious BRCA-1 mutation which puts her lifetime risk of breast cancer at roughly 85%, and her lifetime risk of ovarian cancer at up to 60%. She said two others in her family have had the same mutation and both have been diagnosed with cancer recently.

Elizabeth has already had her breasts removed and is scheduled to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes taken out October 13th at Intermountain Medical Center.

 “Currently there’s no signs of cancer so therefore it is an elective surgery,” Elizabeth said. “However any delay in getting the surgery may increase my risk of developing a cancer that is not now detected.” 

She said when she heard the news from Intermountain she called her surgeon, who told her the procedure is not yet postponed but could be if cases get worse. According to Elizabeth, it’s been on the books for four months. 

“I’m pretty upset.” Elizabeth said.

She blamed Utah politicians for cases of Covid increasing in Utah. She said they are “ignoring science” to slow Covid spread.

“Our largely Republican politician, representatives, elected officials are going against all the scientific data that would help mitigate the community spread.”

 

 


How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Wear a mask to protect yourself and others per CDC recommendations.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet).
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities).
  • Obtain a flu shot.
  • Seek out the COVID-19 vaccine.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

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