Catholic Health Proactively Suspends Inpatient Elective Surgery Based on Growing COVID-19 Numbers & Need for Hospital Beds
As the COVID-19 virus continues to increase at a dramatic pace in Western New York, surpassing peak volumes Catholic Health saw last spring, system officials are temporarily suspending all inpatient elective surgery procedures only from Saturday, Nov. 21, through Saturday, Dec. 5. Outpatient elective surgery procedures will continue as planned, as well as those considered urgent or emergent, based on the discretion of the surgeon.
Inpatient elective surgery procedures are scheduled in advance, requiring at least an overnight hospital stay, but not considered a medical emergency. Emergent procedures generally involve a medical emergency, while urgent procedures are those that if not performed, will likely lead to more serious complications. Decisions on urgent procedures will be made in consultation with the surgeon based on the patient’s defined medical status.
“We must proactively ensure we have flexibility in our bed capacity to care for the growing number of COVID patients we are seeing in our hospitals,” said Mark A. Sullivan, president and CEO of Catholic Health. “Making these necessary adjustments is the best way to manage what’s here now and prepare for what’s projected to come.”
Catholic Health is using published and internal predictive analytics to forecast the virus surge. The suspension of inpatient elective surgery will allow the system to flex up hospital beds to care for the influx of COVID-19 patients that are forecasted over the next two weeks.
“There is a high probability Western New York will be faced with bed shortages in the coming weeks,” Sullivan continued. “After careful consultation with our medical staff and hospital presidents, we determined the best and safest approach to keep pace with the current and anticipated demand for inpatient COVID care at this time is to reduce inpatient elective surgery admissions.”
Catholic Health leaders will continue to assess COVID-19 transmission and hospitalization rates over the next two weeks to a make a decision on inpatient elective surgery after Dec. 5.
“The health and safety of our patients, medical staff and associates is our top priority,” Sullivan said. “We firmly believe the proactive approach we are taking will protect everyone’s safety while putting our caregivers in the best position to respond to the second wave of this pandemic.”
Patients who have an inpatient surgical procedure scheduled between Nov. 21 and Dec. 5 are asked to contact their surgeon’s office for more information.
“The week leading up to Thanksgiving and the following week will be critical as we monitor COVID admissions in our hospitals and trends across the region,” Sullivan added. “Our greatest hope is that with everyone wearing masks, washing their hands, social distancing, and limiting large gatherings, we can reverse this alarming trend.”
Catholic Health to Close Emergency Department at Sisters of Charity Hospital, St. Joseph Campus
To accommodate a rapidly growing COVID-19 patient census and ensure patient safety, quality care and adequate staffing, Catholic Health has closed the emergency department at Sisters of Charity Hospital, St. Joseph Campus, at 2605 Harlem Road in Cheektowaga. Local EMS providers have been notified of this change. It is until further notice.
Emergency services at Sisters Hospital’s Main St. Campus at 2157 Main St., Buffalo, are not affected by this closure. Individuals with medical emergencies should call 911 or go to the nearest open emergency department.
A press release said, “All Catholic Health hospitals are currently caring for COVID patients using a hybrid model that will allow each facility to safely maintain the health of the community while providing the highest quality care to COVID-19 patients.”
“We gained tremendous knowledge from our COVID experience at St. Joseph Campus and are using that knowledge to create a hybrid model to care for COVID patients throughout our system,” said Marty Boryszak, senior vice president of acute care service for Catholic Health. “Although St. Joseph Campus will continue to care for more than half of the COVID patients in Catholic Health, we are increasing bed capacity at all our hospitals to manage this growing surge.”
Outpatient and elective procedures will continue at St. Joseph Campus and throughout Catholic Health at this time, however, the system is closely monitoring bed capacity and surge across the region to respond to changes as necessary.
“The safety of our associates and patients is our top priority,” Boryszak added. “We will continue to monitor and manage this crisis to ensure our hospitals are staffed and equipped to provide the highest quality care, but we ask all Western New Yorkers to also step up and help protect our community by wearing masks, washing their hands, practicing social distancing and limiting gatherings.”
ECMC suspends patient visitation
All patient visitation has been suspended based on NYS Department Health guidelines
Following New York state elevating most of Erie County as an “orange zone” in an effort to decrease community transmission of the COVID-19 virus, ECMC has suspended patient visitation based on guidance from the New York State Department of Health. All patient visitation has been suspended except in medically necessary or end-of-life compassionate care cases.
ECMC’s updated patient visitation guidelines are posted online at www.ecmc.edu.
In addition, no support persons are allowed in the KeyBank Trauma and Emergency Department, except when deemed medically necessary. In these circumstances, the support person must remain in the patient’s treatment room for their entire visit. A support person may accompany the patient through the initial registration process, and staff will then call the support person when the patient is ready for discharge. To reduce congestion in the emergency department waiting room area, a patient triage area has been set-up adjacent to that location.
At this time, elective and inpatient surgeries have not been suspended, but patients having a same-day procedure may have one designated support person through the initial intake process and then they can rejoin the patient at discharge. ECMC is monitoring bed availability closely and will reassess the situation if COVID 19 hospitalization increase significantly.
ECMC is currently caring for 18 COVID-19 patients and the institution has enough PPE, beds and ventilators to care for them and all other patients. ECMC has also met and exceeded the 90-day state requirement for PPE and is currently using less than 30% of its ventilators.