COVID-19 · Health

Valley hospitals begin halting elective surgeries over COVID-struck staffing shortages

Some Central Valley hospitals are putting elective surgeries on hold for a short period as they are dealing with a surge of COVID-19 cases. 

Saint Agnes Medical Center and Valley Children’s will halt all elective surgeries starting Monday. 

Saint Agnes has been reportedly dealing with more than 250 employees missing work, the vast majority of which have tested positive for COVID-19. 

Valley Children’s is in a similar situation with more than 100 employees out with the virus. 

On the other hand, several Central Valley hospitals are continuing to move forward with elective operations amid the recent COVID-19 surge. 

Dr. Gurvinder Kaur, Adventist Health’s Chief Medical Officer in the Central Valley, said there is not a need for the health care provider’s four hospitals – located in Hanford, Reedley, Selma and Tulare – to halt the operations at this time. 

“We are not planning or needing to pause elective surgeries at this time,” Kaur said in a statement to The Sun. “However, we have a command center through which we evaluate our staffing needs on an annoying basis and things might change at any time.” 

While Kaiser Permanente is continuing to hold such operations, the hospital is prepared to halt them if needed. 

“We are using all options available to maintain hospital and ambulatory care staffing so we can meet the needs of our patients. Some of these measures include employing traveling nurses, adjusting elective and non-urgent surgeries and procedures as needed, and offering our industry-leading telehealth capabilities in addition to in-person care,” Kaiser Permanente said in a statement to The Sun. 

“We are closely monitoring the hospital census, available beds, outpatient appointments, staffing, supplies and equipment throughout California. The situation remains dynamic, and we are prepared to respond to the ever-changing demands this pandemic may require.” 

Joining Adventist Health and Kaiser Permanente in continuing to hold elective surgeries is Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia, but in a limited capacity. 

“We continue to perform outpatient ‘elective’ surgeries that will not require admission to the hospital post-surgery. For those patients who have an urgent need for surgery, as an example, cancer surgeries, we will perform those, however, we have a limit of eight admissions from patients who are coming for surgery that are deemed urgent or emergent by their physician,” Kaweah Delta spokeswoman Laura Florez-McCusker said. 

“In addition, we are still performing surgeries that come through the emergency department, such as motor vehicle accidents requiring immediate or emergent interventions. Surgeries that are determined to be clearly elective cosmetic surgeries are postponed.” 

Community Medical Centers in Fresno and Clovis did not respond to an inquiry by publication time, but the health care provider had more than 700 employees out of work last week due to COVID-19. 

Fresno County currently has 502 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, the highest number since January 2021. 

Tulare County reported 134 hospitalized patients while Kings County has been hit less with 41 people hospitalized with the virus.

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.