Omaha area hospitals cutting back on elective surgeries to maintain capacity

Chief medical officers address their concerns
Posted at 1:01 PM, Nov 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-02 19:17:09-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Officials say the surge in COVID-19 cases in Nebraska has led to record-high hospitalizations that are straining the state’s health care system.

The number of people hospitalized with the virus in the state set another new record on Sunday, with 613, which was one more than the previous day.

Nebraska’s largest hospitals have all started limiting elective surgeries as they work to handle the increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, which is expected to continue because cases of the virus continue rising.

Methodist started postponing some of these non-emergency procedures last Thursday. Starting Monday, Nebraska Medicine and CHI Health are doing the same.

"For certain types of procedures that can be postponed a few weeks to free up beds, patients may be called if they fall into this category," CHI Health's Chief Medical Officer Cary Ward said.

The chief medical officers of Nebraska Medicine, CHI Health and Methodist say postponing these surgeries will help hospital capacity. However, each individual has the social responsibility to take more precautions to keep hospitalization rates down.

"We cannot produce unlimited hospital capacity. We need your help," Methodist Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bill Lydiatt said.

Although beds are a concern, all three chief medical officers say staffing is actually a bigger problem than the beds available.

"No matter how many beds we have, we need to be able to staff those beds and that's where a great portion of our focus is at right now," Nebraska Medicine Chief Medical Officer Dr. Harris Frankel said.

The doctors say the $40 million that Governor Ricketts allocated to hospital staffing last month has been a big help.

Dr. Ward said Monday that Nebraska hospitals could reach capacity quickly if current trends continue. Currently, hospitalizations are nearly doubling every two weeks.

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3 News Now Reporter Ruta Ulcinaite provided live updates during the press conference via Twitter:

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