IU Health to suspend half of elective surgeries, procedures in response to COVID-19 surge

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Indiana University Health, the state’s largest hospital system, said it will temporarily suspend 50% of all inpatient elective surgeries and procedures throughout the system in response to surging COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.

The move will be effective Monday, IU Health said in a brief statement issued Thursday.

“The move is needed to alleviate some of the enormous pressure our care teams are under and to reserve inpatient space for those who need it most,” the statement said.

The decision is the latest indication that hospitals in Indiana are feeling besieged by the pandemic, even though some health officials had hoped the widespread availability of vaccines would slow the spread of the virus and the need for hospital care.

Last week, the Indiana Hospital Association said the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is putting a strain on the health care system, and it pleaded with Hoosiers to get vaccinated. The state’s latest vaccination statistics show that 56% of Hoosiers ages 16 and over have been fully vaccinated.

IU Health did not say how many of its beds were being used for COVID-19 patients. It hasn’t updated its webpage on COVID-19 admissions and discharges since May.

But statewide hospitalizations due to COVID-19 rose from 2,048 on Tuesday to 2,108 on Wednesday, the largest number since Jan. 23, when 2,188 people were hospitalized with the virus, the Indiana Department of Health reported on Thursday. Almost a quarter (24.5%) of Indiana’s intensive care unit beds are occupied by COVID patients.

Last spring and early summer, hospitals throughout Indiana postponed elective surgeries and procedures for several months when the virus began building strength here and started to overwhelm the health care system.

Elective surgery refers to operations that are not of an urgent or emergency nature, and can usually be safely delayed.

IU Health said surgery patient are being notified now and will be rescheduled about three weeks out. The system operates 16 hospitals and dozens of clinics.

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