PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - Hospitals around the region are preparing for an influx of COVID-19 patients, some by choosing to postpone elective surgeries.

Hospitals say this is not the same as the measures that were taken in March, when the governor’s office required all hospitals to stop performing elective surgeries. Health care companies say anyone choosing not to perform these surgeries is making the choice for themselves.

Hospitals have been preparing for an increase in COVID-19 patients for a while, heading into fall.

“We know that there’s a potential for a surge to come and we wanted to make sure that we weren’t caught off guard or flat-footed,” Brian Terrett with Legacy Health said.

Several hospitals say that cutting back on elective surgeries is the best way to prepare for that potential influx.

“It’s a very limited scope where we’re asking for postponement and if there’s not an overnight stay, they won’t be affected,” Terrett said.

Hospitals cutting back elective surgeries in preparation for spike of COVID-19 patients

KPTV file image.

Legacy Health says it’s asking providers to talk with their patients to see if an elective surgery can be postponed or if it’s really urgent. They are asking that 25% of those surgeries be put off.

Kaiser Permanente is also pausing scheduling elective surgeries at its two hospitals through the end of the year. It is also reducing surgeries by 20%.

OHSU says their ability to perform elective surgeries will be evaluated daily.

In a statement, Senior Vice President Renee Edwards wrote: “OHSU has set a threshold for the number of elective surgeries we are performing that require a hospital stay for recovery so we can maintain appropriate capacity to care for all the patients we serve. We are evaluating this on a day by day basis.”

But not every hospital is taking this step.

Both Providence and PeaceHealth say right now, they feel comfortable in their abilities to handle COVID-19 patients and those choosing elective surgeries.

In a statement, PeaceHealth wrote: “We are assessing COVID-19 trends and our capacity daily, and remain in close contact with health and government partners in Oregon and Washington.”

The major healthcare companies say they are evaluating their need for COVID-19 patients daily and will continue to decide what measures are necessary to provide the proper care.

Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.


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(1) comment


As a Kaiser member, this disturbs and disgusts me. A large portion of elective surgeries are extremely important. During the last round of banned electives, so many people suffered and some died unnecessarily. Not a single hospital was "overwhelmed".

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