SEATTLE — Several Puget Sound hospital, including UW Medicine, Harborview and Swedish, are delaying some non-urgent procedures to free up more space in its hospitals for coronavirus patients.
Hospital staff are identifying non-urgent surgeries that would require hospitalization and postponing them "unless it would cause medical harm to the patient," said Susan Gregg, spokesperson for UW Medicine on Saturday.
"We are implementing this process to increase our bed capacity and available personnel based on the current increase of COVID-19 cases in our region and increased hospitalizations," Gregg said via email.
During a briefing with state and local health officials earlier this week, Chief Operating Officer at Swedish First Hill, Dr. Elizabeth Wako, said her hospital is reducing elective surgeries to make room for more COVID-19 patients.
The latest data from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) reported 141,260 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state, including 2,619 deaths as of Saturday. There are currently 9,765 hospitalizations, according to the DOH.
In King County, there are 2,930 hospitalizations, in Snohomish County there are 1,041 hospitalizations, and in Pierce County there are 1,192 hospitalizations, according to DOH data that was last updated Saturday afternoon.
Hospitals in western Washington are preparing for what could be a surge in COVID-19 cases following the Thanksgiving holiday if people choose to ignore state and local warnings to not gather with people outside their household.
A new national survey by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found nearly two in five people report they will likely attend a gathering with more than 10 people for Thanksgiving.
"If you gather with 15 people for Thanksgiving dinner, there will be an 18% chance that one of the individuals will be infected with COVID," said State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy during a briefing this week.
Deputy Secretary of Health Lacy Fehrenbach added, "There's risk for further transmission. Those guests who become infected may go on to do other things the following week. They may go to a religious service. Another might work in a nursing home. A child who attended could go to school leading to outbreaks in these locations."