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Local hospitals suspending elective surgeries amid COVID-19 surge

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Posted at 1:26 PM, Jan 03, 2022

CINCINNATI — At least two local hospital networks are suspending elective surgeries and nonessential procedures to free up bed space as the omicron variant continues to cause surges in COVID-19 cases.

St. Elizabeth said it is pausing scheduling on elective surgeries that require admissions through Jan. 8 and they are halting non-emergent procedures until mid-January. Cases at the Northern Kentucky hospital have been rapidly climbing, according to a spokesperson with St. Elizabeth.

"Our community is in the midst of a surge from a mix of delta variant infections and omicron variant infections, the latter strain having a much shorter doubling time and infection rate," said Guy Karrik, manager of media relations and communications at St. Elizabeth. "At the conclusion of the holiday season and people gathering, we are expecting to see incidence rates increase further in our region over the next few weeks."

A spokesperson with TriHealth said it is doing the same, but did not provide a timeline for how long they expect to delay procedures.

"To keep hospital beds available during this COVID surge, we are making operational changes such as limiting elective surgeries and procedures that require hospital admissions and keeping patients longer in the post-anesthesia care units to avoid taking up patient beds needed for care," said Michael Mattingly, senior public relations consultant with TriHealth.

Mercy Health has had to delay elective procedures on a case-by-case basis and remains very busy, but said they still have the capacity to care for all of their patients.

"Our scheduling decisions are based on safeguarding the health of our patients, associates and the communities we serve," said Nanette Bentley, public relations director for Mercy Health. "We are concerned about the number of COVID-19 and flu cases and continue to monitor them closely because of their potential impact on our operations. The majority of our patients hospitalized with COVID are unvaccinated. The community can help us lessen the strain on area health systems by getting vaccinated, receiving the booster shot and following the well-established protocols of avoiding large gatherings, masking and frequent hand washing."

At the Christ Hospital Network, they are evaluating whether to perform elective procedures on a day-to-day basis, according to James Buechele, spokesperson for the hospital network.

"The Christ Hospital, along with all local hospitals, have seen an alarming increase in COVID-19 patients over the holidays, mostly unvaccinated," he said. "We continue to strongly encourage all community members to get vaccinated as soon as possible, mask at all times while indoors, limit the size of gatherings and social distance. The vaccines are both a safe and effective way of protecting against severe disease and hospitalization."

On Monday, there were 18,942 COVID-19 cases reported in Ohio and 350 new hospitalizations reported in the last 24 hours.

Monday's statewide hospitalization total was the highest in Ohio since the start of the pandemic, with 6,177 patients suffering from COVID-19 in hospitals. Of those, 1,307 were in intensive care units and 835 were on ventilators, according to data released by the Ohio Department of Health.

WCPO has reached out to UC Health and Children's hospitals but have not yet heard back.