Main Line Health Suspends Elective Surgeries and Procedures Amid Rise in COVID-19 Cases

Citing a near-record wave of COVID-19 patients at its four suburban hospitals, Main Line Health announced on Sunday that it would “halt” all surgeries and elective procedures over the next two weeks to ensure it there is staff and space to welcome him quickly. increasing workload.

Jonathan Stallkamp, ​​Chief Medical Officer of Main line health, said COVID-19 cases have “increased exponentially” since Thanksgiving, and the healthcare system – which includes Lankenau Medical Center, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Paoli Hospital and Riddle Hospital – is approaching from its peak, which was nearly 300 defined cases in December 2020.

“We’re not the only ones either,” Stallkamp said. “All other health systems in the region are also at or near their peak. “

Although Main Line Health is not testing the variants, a large majority of its COVID-19 cases are believed to be the omicron variant, Stallkamp said. The contagious nature of the variant associated with in-person vacation gatherings is a major factor in the increase in cases, he said.

“Before, where you would take precautions and see a little bit of spread, it is nothing like the spread of omicron,” Stallkamp said. “And it really hit Philly right before Christmas.”

The majority of COVID-19 patients at Main Line Health, around 70%, are still not vaccinated, he said.

“We are seeing groundbreaking cases, but people are definitely not as sick as they would be if they weren’t vaccinated,” Stallkamp said.

Looking at the projections, Stallkamp said Main Line Health will most likely surpass its record number of COVID-19 patients this month. And with some vaccinated staff forced to call with groundbreaking cases and winter being a period of normally high volume anyway, the decision was made to postpone elective surgeries to make more room for patients and beds. and the staff needed to cover them.

“It’s the worst to cancel for a patient the day before their operation,” Stallkamp said. “Looking at our numbers, we said we need to do it now to be fair to our patients and staff and to be prepared for any further COVID cases that strike us. “

While surgeries such as knee and hip replacements are pending, other procedures, such as those for broken arms and coronary bypass grafts, remain underway, according to Stallkamp.

Main Line Health, which has also updated its visitor policy on his website, will continue to monitor the number of cases and reassess the situation in two weeks. Stallkamp said he hopes elective surgeries and procedures will resume soon.

“It’s a bit of déjà vu, in and of itself, but I’m optimistic that it might just be the last big hurray, and I think a lot of people are going to have it and maybe not realize that it will be the last big hurray. ‘They get it because they’re vaccinated, “he said. “And at this point, I think we’ll have developed some pretty decent herd immunity and be back to normal by the spring.”

It was not clear if other hospitals or health systems in the area were considering stopping elective surgeries and procedures, but at least one, Penn Medicine, placed stricter guidelines on its masking requirement due to the increase in COVID-19 cases.

As of Jan. 3, visitors to Penn Medicine must wear surgical masks, N95 masks, or KN95 masks. Sheet masks, gaiters, bandanas, masks with exhalation valves, gas masks and face shields (except for medical reasons) are not authorized.

Meanwhile, in New Jersey, where more and more schools are deciding to go virtual due to the rising tide of COVID-19 cases, the state’s first lady, Tammy Murphy, has tested positive for COVID-19 Sunday.

Officials say Murphy, who is vaccinated and received a booster, is asymptomatic. Members of his family, including Governor Phil Murphy, have tested negative.

This article contains information from The Associated Press.

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