CLEWISTON -- Elective surgeries have been temporarily postponed at Hendry Regional Medical Center so medical staff – already stretched thin - can focus on incoming patients requiring critical care.
HRMC will continue performing emergency surgeries.
As of Sept. 7, HRMC had 20 patients. Fourteen were COVID-19 positive, with two patients at ICU status, according to HRMC CEO R.D. Williams.
ICU-status patients are being cared for in the emergency department.
“Like other areas in the state of Florida, we have seen a dramatic increase of covid positive patients,” he said, adding the current surge HRMC is experiencing is higher than the previous peak in 2020.
The elective surgery suspension will allow redistribution of staff to meet the surge needs and conserve oxygen use.
“For reference, we are using a month’s supply of oxygen in a week to meet the demand of critically ill COVID-19 patients,” he said.
Elective surgeries are scheduled, non-life-threatening surgeries such as gall bladder operations or colonoscopies.
Typically, HRMC performs about 800 elective surgeries annually. But in 2020, with covid and the intermittent cancellation of elective surgeries, only 400 were undertaken, Williams said.
At that time, elective surgeries were suspended from March until May 2020.
“We continue to monitor the local cases of covid, and the prevalence of hospitalization required for patients within the hospital,” Williams said. “The needs will dictate when we are able to resume elective surgeries.”
He anticipates continued widespread community infection over the next few weeks with the delta variation and is bracing for more people needing emergency and hospital care due to that.
“The best course of action to prevent hospitalization from covid is the vaccine,” he said. “HRMC offers vaccines and will be starting booster shots upon approval from federal agencies.”
HRMC also offers monoclonal antibody therapy for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19. It is not a substitute for vaccination against covid and is done through IV infusion as an outpatient.