Acting in the best interest of the community, CHI Memorial, Erlanger Health System, and Parkridge Health System are making plans to delay elective surgeries in light of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic following the recommendations of the American College of Surgeons, the Surgeon General, the Tennessee Department of Health, and the President of the United States to stem the spread of this virus. Our industry leading groups were joined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s top epidemiologist in recommending that all hospitals across the country temporarily suspend elective procedures in order to maintain capacity for the anticipated increase in COVID-19 patients needing hospitalization and preserve vital health resources. Yesterday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid issued guidance recommending hospitals delay elective procedures.
In a March 17, 2020 letter to hospital CEOs, Blood Assurance CEO JB Gaskins, said, “We are asking for your help to ensure we are able to provide everything you need during this difficult time. We are seeing lower donations and drive cancellations due to COVID-19, and much like gloves, gowns, and masks, blood is a critical supply for our ORs, ICUs, and ERs. To help us be able to guarantee this critical supply, at this time we are asking all of our hospitals to consider canceling elective surgeries until we are able to ensure normal collections.”
All three area health systems are working with their surgical leadership teams to accommodate this new recommendation in a manner that is least disruptive to patients scheduled for surgery and to meet the need for availability of beds should this situation progress.
Beginning Saturday, March 21, 2020, CHI Memorial will temporarily postpone elective procedures at its Chattanooga, Hixson and Georgia campuses. Elective surgery is defined as treatment that can be delayed. Delay of surgery may be remediated by medical management. Cosmetic procedures are considered elective.
Erlanger Health System and Parkridge Health System will implement their plans based on their unique internal operations and circumstances.
As a precautionary measure, Parkridge Health System is following CMS guidelines that suggest postponing low- to intermediate-acuity outpatient procedures for patients not facing life-threatening illness. This decision was made in accordance with the stated goals of CMS, which are to protect patient health, preserve personal protective equipment and other healthcare resources, and limit patient and provider exposure to COVID-19.
We anticipate this temporary delay will aid our efforts to protect patients, preserve staff, personal protective equipment, patient care supplies, and to expand available hospital capacity for the anticipated care of patients with COVID-19.
We applaud the forward-thinking decision of our respective medical staff leadership. Their patient relationships run deep and they have a strong sense of responsibility to consider the best practice for sustaining our community resources for the duration of this global pandemic.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, M.D. has told public health officials that it is better to err on the side of caution in coronavirus mitigation, even if the steps taken appear to be an overreaction. Whether young or old, healthy or otherwise, each one of us can increase the risk of contracting COVID-19 for our coworkers, loved ones, and neighbors. We are all responsible for doing our part to make a resounding impact on the health of our community. Together our philosophy is to be overprepared in this unprecedented situation and to protect our physicians, staff, patients, and the community.
For more information on how to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, visit memorial.org/coronavirus; erlanger.org/coronavirus; parkridgehealth.com/covid-19; or cdc.gov/coronavirus.