University of Utah Hospital suspends many surgeries because COVID-19 outbreak hits staff, patients


Hospitalizations have risen sharply since Christmas, as has staff who fell ill.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune file photo) University Hospital in Salt Lake City is suspending most surgeries as the COVID-19 outbreak affects staff and patients.

The University of Utah Hospital is suspending many surgeries because the COVID-19 outbreak has infected hundreds of employees while the number of hospitalizations begins to increase.

Dr Russell Vinik, director of medical operations, said the hospital had seen a 400% increase in hospitalizations for COVID-19 since Christmas.

“That created some tension,” says Vinik. However, he also notes, “many of our employees, despite being fully vaccinated and wearing the right precautions, get sick as well.

“We have lost hundreds of employees in the last few days due to illness,” said Vinik. “We have to reduce the number of patient beds at least for the foreseeable future.”

New cases reached near record high in recent days as the highly contagious omicron variant of the virus swept through Utah.

Intensive care units at Utah’s major “referral” hospitals were at 89% capacity as of Sunday, the most recent day for which data is available; The ICU is considered “full” at 85%, and major Utah hospitals have exceeded this number since mid-August.

But the U. doesn’t have to suspend surgeries just to transfer staff to ICUs to care for COVID-19 patients. The staff themselves are falling ill as new infections surge across the state, exacerbating shortages of staff for operating rooms and routine hospital care outside of the ICU.

More than 14,700 Utahns tested positive for COVID-19 during the long New Year’s weekend, with nearly 4,700 new cases reported on December 30 alone. More than 2,000 of them are in Salt Lake County. , by far the county’s largest single day of cases since the pandemic began.

[Read more: Will Utah see a surge of COVID-19 cases in schools?]

– The Salt Lake Tribune will update this developing story. University of Utah Hospital suspends many surgeries because COVID-19 outbreak hits staff, patients

Yasmin Harisha

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