We are facing a dire situation. 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. — Dr. Marc Harrison. the chief executive of Intermountain Healthcare
We are facing a dire situation. 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. — Dr. Marc Harrison. the chief executive of Intermountain Healthcare

We don’t have enough resources to adequately treat the patients in our hospitals, whether you are there for Covid-19 or a heart attack or because of a car accident. — Dave Jeppesen, director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare
We don’t have enough resources to adequately treat the patients in our hospitals, whether you are there for Covid-19 or a heart attack or because of a car accident. — Dave Jeppesen, director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare

High Covid Hospitalizations Have Delayed Elective Surgeries
Echoes of the pandemic’s early months are resounding through the halls of hospitals, with an average of more than 90,000 patients in the United States being treated daily for Covid. Once again, many hospitals have been slammed in the last two months, this time by the Delta variant, and have been reporting that intensive care units are overflowing, that patients have to be turned away and even that some patients have died while awaiting a spot in an acute or I.C.U. ward.

In this latest wave, hospital administrators and doctors were desperate to avoid the earlier pandemic phases of blanket shutdowns of surgeries and other procedures that are not true emergencies. But in the hardest-hit areas, especially in regions of the country with low vaccination rates, they are now making difficult choices about which patients can still be treated. And patients are waiting several weeks, if not longer, to undergo non-Covid surgeries.

“We are facing a dire situation,” said Dr. Marc Harrison. the chief executive of Intermountain Healthcare, the large Utah-based hospital group, which announced a pause of nearly all non-urgent surgeries on Sept. 10.

“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 at a news conference.


In some of the hardest-hit areas, like Alaska and Idaho, doctors are taking even more extreme steps and rationing care.

When they can, some hospitals and doctors are trying to seek a balance between curtailing or shuttering elective procedures and screenings — often lucrative sources of revenue — and maintaining those services to ensure that delays in care don’t endanger patients.

The industry was largely insulated last year from the revenues they lost during the pandemic after Congress authorized $178 billion in relief funding for providers. Some large hospital groups were even more profitable in 2020 than before the virus took its financial toll, with some going on spending sprees and buying up doctors’ practices and expanding. Many had started seeing operations return to normal levels.

A few large hospital chains did not meet the criteria for aid they had received, and returned some of it. It’s unclear how much more hospitals can expect, even if they shutter some of their operations during this latest wave. The Biden administration said earlier this month that it planned to release $26 billion in remaining Covid relief funds.

Officials have also had to weigh the risk of admitting patients who could infect others.

But doctors have also been monitoring some of the long-term effects of long waiting times for non-Covid patients during the pandemic, wary of the specter of unchecked cancers or ignored ulcerative conditions if screenings are postponed.

And the waiting is still extremely stressful, troubling both doctors and patients with pressing illnesses who do not view their conditions as non-urgent.

... In some areas, doctors are explicitly rationing care. On Thursday, Idaho state officials expanded “crisis standards of care” across the state, a standard that had been limited to the northern part of the state earlier in the month. “We don’t have enough resources to adequately treat the patients in our hospitals, whether you are there for Covid-19 or a heart attack or because of a car accident,” Dave Jeppesen, the director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, said in a statement.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/22/health/covid-hospitals-elective-surgeries.html