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US hospitals postpone non-elective procedures amid bed and staff shortages

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | September 15, 2021
Emergency Medicine

“It means they’re in the waiting room, some are in the back of ambulances, things of that nature,” said Jeannie Gaines, a spokesperson for the Alabama Hospital Association.

Another challenge for some is a shortage of workers. Henry Ford Health System in Michigan has been forced to cut about 120 patient beds (7%) from its five hospitals for this reason. The majority of beds were in general care, though some were in ICUs. With 95% of its beds filled, patients are waiting as long as six hours in the ER, according to Crain’s Detroit Business.

And just last month, the LA Times reported that Scripps Health in San Diego chose to delay medical procedures and announced that it was considering consolidating its outpatient locations to better manage the shortage of workers and demand for beds amidst the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

Intermountain, meanwhile, says it will continue to provide care in urgent situations and for emergency patients. “While this pause in surgeries may create challenges for some patients, it is a necessary and appropriate step, given the sharp spike in hospitalizations for patients with COVID-19.”

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