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COVID surge leads BayCare to suspend elective surgeries at Pinellas, Pasco, Polk hospitals

The hospital chain acts as surpasses 1,000 COVID patients in its 14 hospitals in the region.
BayCare Health System is suspending elective surgeries at its hospitals in Pinellas, Pasco and Polk counties. The decision comes as the number of COVID patients across its 14 hospitals in southwest Florida exceeded 1,000, the most since the start of the pandemic.
BayCare Health System is suspending elective surgeries at its hospitals in Pinellas, Pasco and Polk counties. The decision comes as the number of COVID patients across its 14 hospitals in southwest Florida exceeded 1,000, the most since the start of the pandemic. [ Times (2012) ]
Published Aug. 12
Updated Aug. 12

BayCare Health System put a hold on all elective surgeries and procedures at it hospitals in Pinellas, Pasco and Polk counties as the surge in COVID-19 cases shows no sign of slowing down.

The hospital chain had already suspended some elective procedures across most of its Hillsborough hospitals in the past two weeks after the number of COVID-19 patients rose to more than 800, the highest since the pandemic began.

Related: Florida’s new COVID high: 19,000 cases a day, worst since pandemic started

As of Thursday, the number of infected patients had risen to more than 1,000 patients across the company’s 14 hospitals in the Tampa Bay region and in Polk. That’s a 10-fold increase since the beginning of July, said BayCare Chief Operating Officer Glenn Waters.

“We’re making these operational adjustments to be sure we can continue providing safe, high-quality care to the recent influx of COVID patients in addition to hundreds of other people in our hospitals with unrelated, serious medical issues,” he said in a statement.

The decision comes as the number of coronavirus patients in Florida hospitals continues to rise every day. The Florida Hospital Association reported a record 15,358 COVID-19 patients as of Thursday. That’s up from just 1,842 patients from June 3. The association says 49 percent of adult patients in the state’s ICUs have the virus, and so do 32 percent of total patients in Florida hospitals.

Related: Tampa Bay hospitals suspend surgeries, limit visits as COVID admissions rise

Other hospital chains have also taken emergency measures to deal with the influx of infected patients.

Officials at AdventHealth last week announced new restrictions on hospital visits at all of its Tampa Bay locations and have suspended non-urgent elective surgeries that require an overnight stay at its Wesley Chapel and Carrollwood hospitals. Memorial Healthcare System in Broward County suspended elective surgeries at its hospitals effective Aug. 9.

Waters said putting a hold on the surgeries means hospitals can reserve staff and resources to care for patients who need immediate attention. BayCare has a clinical review process for patients or doctors who receive a cancellation notice but believe the surgery is medically necessary.

“We deeply regret the impact this can make on many people,” Waters said. “We will continue to evaluate the situation and determine at a later date when we can reschedule these appointments.”

Related: Florida vaccinations climb during delta surge, but half the state is still unvaccinated

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