116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — As a result of an increased number of patients — partially driven by a surge in COVID-19 admissions — Cedar Rapids hospitals are limiting elective surgeries and procedures.
Both UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital and Mercy Medical Center confirmed Friday their facilities are preserving capacity because of high patient counts in recent weeks.
The recent increase includes patients admitted for COVID-19 and other illnesses and injuries, hospital officials say.
“To make sure we have capacity to serve the community and emergency cases, we started to temporarily limit ‘nonemergent’ surgeries and procedures,” St. Luke’s spokeswoman Sarah Corizzo said in an email to The Gazette.
St. Luke’s is limiting surgeries that require an inpatient hospital stay to 10 surgeries per day.
Elective surgery is a procedure scheduled in advance because it does not involve a medical emergency, such as cosmetic surgery, Corizzo said.
“We continue to assess the situation daily as it remains a very fluid situation,” she said.
Mercy also is temporarily reducing the number of elective procedures that require hospital stays after surgery, officials confirmed.
“It is a day-to-day decision based on census and affects only procedures that do not need to be done within the next four to six weeks,” Mercy spokesman Mark Wehr said in an email to The Gazette.
“If a procedure is moved, we notify the patient directly. Otherwise, patients should plan on their procedure as scheduled.”
The announcement comes as coronavirus cases, largely driven by the highly contagious delta variant, have surged in the past month across the state. All 99 Iowa counties are currently experiencing a high rate of community transmission of the virus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of Friday morning, 42 patients were hospitalized for COVID-19 in Linn County, the county public health department reported.
“This underscores our continued encouragement for the community to get vaccinated against COVID-19,” Wehr said. “It is the single most useful tool to limit the spread and severe illness from the virus.”
Cedar Rapids hospitals have not delayed or postponed elective surgeries and procedures since this past fall, when Iowa saw a record surge in COVID-19 cases that nearly overwhelmed hospitals statewide.
Other hospitals statewide are now taking similar steps. This past month, Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines announced it would temporarily suspend elective surgeries due to a high patient census.
To date, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics has not limited any surgeries or procedures, officials said Friday.
UIHC officials are continually assessing the situation to determine if they need to make operational changes, they said in an email to The Gazette.
The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Iowa jumped to 578 this week, according to Wednesday numbers released by the Iowa Department of Public Health. That’s the highest number of hospitalizations since Jan. 8.
That total includes 158 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units and 83 patients on ventilators.
More than 8,400 new COVID-19 cases were reported statewide in the past week, compared to 8,308 cases the previous week, state coronavirus data shows.
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