GRAND BLANC TWP., MI — Ascension Genesys hospital has told its medical staff not to schedule new elective surgeries until at least Nov. 30 amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.
In a message to doctors Thursday, Nov. 12, the hospital said it was making the move “due to the recent demand for inpatient beds … as well as the seasonal increase in surgical volume expected through the end of the calendar year.”
“The moratorium on the scheduling of (new) selected surgical cases will be evaluated on a weekly basis for possible extension beyond the original November 30th date …” the directive says. “In addition to the temporary restrictions on future surgical case boardings, we are asking surgeons to thoughtfully examine all extended recovery and same-day surgery cases already boarded” through Nov. 30.
Although the message does not specifically mention the rise in coronavirus cases in Genesee County and Michigan, those infections have reached their highest levels since the start of the pandemic.
In the county, COVID-19 cases have averaged 164 cases daily for the past seven days, according to county Health Department statistics, and earlier this week, Hurley Medical Center’s occupancy rate hit 98.2 percent before dropping to 84.3 percent as of Thursday.
Ascension hospitals, including Genesys, had an occupancy rate of 84.4 percent as of that same date, and McLaren hospitals, including McLaren-Flint, were at 83.9 percent occupancy.
MLive-The Flint Journal could not immediately reach an Ascension spokeswoman for further comment on the new surgical restrictions on Friday, Nov. 13, and it was not immediately clear if the moratorium includes other Ascension hospitals in the state.
Earlier this week, Ascension officials said that while they currently had the capacity to treat all patients at Genesys including those diagnosed with COVID-19, the hospital had developed a surge plan to allow it to “quickly adapt to the needs of our patients and to the healthcare demands of our community.”
A Hurley spokeswoman said Friday that the hospital has not restricted elective surgeries, while McLaren did not immediately comment on any new restrictions on elective surgery.
Earlier this week, McLaren said there has been a rise in admissions of patients with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of October.
“Over the last week numbers have increased at a higher rate,” the McLaren statement says. “The current upward trend in COVID case volume in Michigan is concerning, and our teams across the state are closely monitoring the situation.”
Although hospital officials from around Michigan have warned of rising occupancy rates fueled by increases in coronavirus infections, the region of the state that includes Saginaw, Alcona, Iosco, Ogemaw, Arenac, Gladwin, Midland, Bay, Genesee, Tuscola, Lapeer, Sanilac and Huron counties — has been hit especially hard, registering the highest hospital occupancy rate in Michigan earlier this week at 88 percent.
Ascension’s notice to medical staff says all surgical cases for current patients will not be cancelled or postponed and “favorable consideration” will be given to all cancer surgeries and other time-sensitive cases “that must be performed to assure optimal patient outcomes.
The notice says a team led by surgeons and anesthesiologists will meet daily to address any questions about the urgency of specific cases.
“All elective ambulatory/outpatient cases not requiring an inpatient bed will continue to be boarded without restrictions,” the notice says.
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