Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth and University Hospitals each are adjusting or scaling back the scheduling of some non-urgent procedures in response to the latest surge in the number of COVID-19 patients, the health systems announced in a joint statement Friday, Dec. 3.
"Patient and caregiver safety remain our highest priority," reads the statement. "This action frees resources for patients with immediate and life-threatening needs and manages the demands on frontline caregivers, who have served with distinction throughout the pandemic."
The systems are seeing "unprecedented" demand for inpatient care across their facilities and a significant increase in unvaccinated patients being hospitalized due to COVID-19, leading to hospitals nearing full capacity at many locations, according to the statement. More than 90% of patients with COVID-19 in the ICU are not vaccinated and most vaccinated patients who are hospitalized have underlying health conditions.
"We are urging everyone eligible to please get vaccinated," the statement reads.
UH is experiencing a record high census of hospitalized COVID-19 positive patients, while Cleveland Clinic hospitals and the MetroHealth System are both seeing increases in patients hospitalized due to COVID-19.
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The specific, voluntary adjustments for each system are as follows, according to the joint news release:
• Beginning Monday, Dec. 6, and going through Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, the Clinic will pause scheduling additional non-urgent inpatient surgeries that require a hospital bed in its Ohio locations — with the exception of Euclid and Lutheran Hospitals. Essential and urgent surgeries — as well as heart, cancer, pediatric and transplantation surgeries, and outpatient surgeries not requiring a hospital bed — will continue to be scheduled, and the Clinic will continue to evaluate scheduled surgical patients as the pandemic continues.
• MetroHealth has begun postponing some elective surgeries to free up space in its hospitals in response to high demand for inpatient care involving both COVID and non-COVID cases. The system is exercising other options to meet the latest surge as well, including encouraging more use of its Hospital in the Home program
• UH is rescheduling certain non-urgent surgeries at UH Cleveland Medical Center that require an inpatient stay for a short duration of time. UH Cleveland Medical Center at this time continues to perform urgent surgeries and outpatient surgeries and procedures that don't involve an overnight stay. UH continues to perform all types of surgeries and procedures at its community hospitals, although the statement notes "the situation is fluid and subject to change." UH physicians are seeing patients as normal, and UH labs and testing center remain open.
"We remain available to provide care to patients experiencing an emergency, life-threatening illness or prescribed screening or testing as well as providing outpatient surgeries that do not require a hospital bed," per the joint statement.
This story first appeared in our sister publication, Crain's Cleveland Business.