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BayCare, HCA hospitals roll back elective surgeries in Pinellas

The move comes as coronavirus cases rise in the county, causing space in hospitals to dwindle.

Two of Tampa Bay’s largest hospital systems are pausing some non-urgent procedures in Pinellas County to make way for a surge in coronavirus patients, the companies have announced.

Those procedures will stop at HCA hospitals on Monday, then at BayCare Health Systems hospitals on Friday, July 10. The companies have worked together to develop plans as local coronavirus cases rise, according to a BayCare news release.

As of Friday, Pinellas had recorded 7,697 cases and 185 deaths. About 18 percent of regular hospital beds were available and about 11 percent of ICU beds, according to the Agency for Health Care Administration.

“These are never easy decisions to make, as so many people see their lives improve after a non-urgent procedure,” BayCare CEO Tommy Inzina said in the release. “But this is about making sure our community has the maximum resources at its disposal to address the second peak of this pandemic.”

Related: Tampa Bay hospitals brace for a possible surge in patients

Unlike during the state-mandated ban on elective surgeries from March 20 to May 4, BayCare and HCA will continue some non-urgent procedures. The policy “will impact far fewer people’s health care” than before, Inzina said.

HCA hospital leaders are monitoring case numbers and will make adjustments as needed, chief medical officer Larry Feinman said in a news release. “This is one of the ways we can quickly free up beds as we move forward with surge planning.”

BayCare hospitals rolling back procedures include: St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Morton Plant and Mease Countryside hospitals in Clearwater and Mease Dunedin Hospital. The affected HCA hospitals are: Largo Medical Center, St. Petersburg General Hospital, and Northside and Palms of Pasadena Hospital, which are also in St. Petersburg.

A similar plan will be adopted at hospitals in Hillsborough and Pasco counties, if needed, BayCare said. The counties had 15 percent and 22 percent of bed space open, respectively, Friday afternoon. Only 8 percent of ICU beds were open in Hillsborough, compared to 22 percent in Pasco.

Hospital space statewide has declined steadily since April, according to an analysis of state data by the Tampa Bay Times. About 22 percent of regular beds and 21 percent of ICU beds were available Friday.

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