Dignity Health’s Arizona hospitals halting some elective surgeries as beds fill

Dec 13, 2021, 8:11 AM
Dr. Michael Nguyen tends to a patient in a hallway at the Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital ...
Dr. Michael Nguyen tends to a patient in a hallway at the Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital on August 18, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (File Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
(File Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – Dignity Health’s Arizona hospitals are halting some elective surgeries to deal with shrinking capacity as the number of COVID-19 patients rises, the health care network said Monday.

“We are taking every possible measure to improve capacity while ensuring our patients receive effective medical treatment,” Dignity Health said in a statement emailed to KTAR News 92.3 FM.

“This includes modulating elective surgeries, and closely monitoring and adjusting staffing levels to ensure appropriate staffing and skill mix.”

Dignity Health said it wasn’t releasing specific numbers about capacity and COVID-19 hospitalizations because the situation was fluid.

“We understand how difficult this pandemic has been for everyone, and we urge the community to continue to practice behaviors known to limit the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, and to receive COVID-19 and flu vaccinations,” the statement said. “These simple actions are effective in minimizing an increased surge in our state.”

Last week, Dr. Richard Carmona, the top public health emergency advisor to Gov. Doug Ducey and the Arizona Department of Health Services, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News that pausing elective surgeries was among the options for dealing with the shrinking hospital capacity.

“We may have to start thinking about not doing elective surgery,” Carmona, a former U.S. surgeon general, said. “We may have to stop thinking about doing anything that’s elective and only treat emergencies.”

As of Saturday, 6% of inpatient beds and 4% of ICU beds throughout Arizona were unused, according to the ADHS COVID-19 dashboard. Only 68 ICU beds were available, the lowest level of the pandemic.

“This is really a crisis now,” Carmona said.

Confirmed or suspected COVID patients took up 41% of all ICU beds statewide and 31% of the inpatient beds.

Carmona said nearly 80% of people hospitalized with COVID haven’t been vaccinated. According to ADHS data for October released last week, Arizonans who aren’t fully vaccinated were nearly four times more likely than those who are to test positive and had a 15 times greater risk of dying from the virus.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this report.

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Dignity Health’s Arizona hospitals halting some elective surgeries as beds fill