Pritzker, IDPH urge hospitals to postpone non-emergency surgeries

State News

CHICAGO (WCIA) — To prepare for a likely surge of post-holiday Omicron cases and a potential shortage of staffed ICY beds, Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Health are urged hospitals on Thursday to take every possible measure to maintain and expand bed capacity.

That includes postponing non-emergency surgeries and other procedures as long as postponement does not risk patient harm.

“We are preparing for a continuing post-holiday surge, and with hospital staff already working so hard, I appreciate the work hospital leadership is doing to assure capacity, including postponing non-emergency surgeries and procedures to ensure their ability to handle serious COVID cases and other emergencies without putting patients at risk,” Pritzker said. “To all Illinoisans: please understand that the nation is experiencing high COVID transmission rates, and some surgeries in Illinois will be postponed. We’re asking our residents to temporarily hold off on important medical care like tonsillectomies, bariatric surgeries and hernia repair. As we work to keep ICU beds open, I continue to applaud the efforts of our hospitals and healthcare workers across the state, who have been heroes for us all.”

Hospitals are advised to continue following IDPH guidance on when to consider postponing elective surgeries that physicians believe can be rescheduled without risking patient harm.

Several hospitals have already implemented this strategy to increase capacity. Hospitals have implemented other strategies as well, including telehealth technology, reallocating staff resources, and expanding ICU capacity.

However, healthcare experts emphasized that getting vaccinated, getting boosted and following recommended social distancing guidelines are still critical.

“We are currently seeing approximately 500 new admissions a day to Illinois hospitals due to COVID-19, and approximately 90% of those are unvaccinated,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.  “There is a health care worker shortage in Illinois, in the U.S., and across the world. We’re seeing health care workers leave the profession because they are burnt out after watching people suffer severe illness and even death for almost two years now. We want to make sure that there is a hospital bed available for anyone for any reason – cancer complications, appendicitis, stroke, heart attack, car crash, or COVID-19. Please get vaccinated and get boosted, for all of us.”

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