LEWES — Beebe Healthcare is pausing elective surgical procedures which require an overnight stay in the hospital due to an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations.
In a statement, Beebe said its leaders made the decision “to continue providing safe, high-quality care to the influx of patients requiring hospitalization due to COVID-19 and unrelated serious medical issues.”
The pause goes into effect this morning. Patients whose elective surgeries are paused will be contacted by their surgeon’s office, Beebe said.
More than 95% of Beebe’s hospitalized COVID-19 patients are either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, according to the hospital system.
“Beebe will continually monitor this fluid surge and will resume elective surgeries requiring a hospital stay as the situation requires,” according to a Beebe press release. “Beebe is working closely with surgeons to ensure that patient care is prioritized as best as possible.”
Delaware has 266 individuals hospitalized with COVID-19, per the Delaware Division of Public Health’s daily update on Monday. The recent surge has had hospitalizations as high as 271 over the weekend — the most since Feb. 4.
In Sussex County, 102 people are hospitalized with the virus. The last time that number was more than 100 was Jan. 21.
Beebe officials say they strongly urge everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The vaccine is free and readily available throughout the state. A list of vaccination sites is available here.
The vaccines are effective in preventing serious illness and death, said Beebe officials.
“At this time, as we build the level of vaccination nationwide, we must also use all the prevention strategies available, including masking indoors in public places, to stop transmission and stop the pandemic,” said Dr. David A. Tam, Beebe’s president and CEO. “Everyone who is able, including fully vaccinated people, should wear masks in public indoor places.”
Bebee is the second local healthcare system to pause elective surgeries recently as TidalHealth Peninsula Regional announced a similar pause last week, which began Monday and will last for two weeks.
TidalHealth’s pause affects elective, non-emergency surgeries that require an overnight stay. All non-emergency, non-life-threatening surgeries requiring an overnight stay will be evaluated by a multidisciplinary clinical team and those that can be postponed will be, according to the hospital system.
Patients affected by the pause were notified ahead of time by their surgeon’s office, TidalHealth said.
TidalHealth’s pause was in response to a combination of several factors such as stress on hospital staffing levels and hospital bed capacity at both TidalHealth hospitals in Salisbury, Maryland and Seaford.
This pause in elective surgeries is only at TidalHealth Peninsula Regional in Salisbury, but the same criteria is being evaluated daily with physician leadership at TidalHealth Nanticoke in Seaford, according to TidalHealth’s announcement.
Dr. Mark Edney, president of the medical staff at TidalHealth Peninsula Regional, and Dr. Steve Leonard, TidalHealth’s CEO, also encouraged vaccinations in a statement.
“Patients who are ill with COVID are contributing to put stress and significant demand on the limited resources of the emergency department, hospital floors and the ICU, and the vast majority who are getting sick enough with COVID to require hospitalization are unvaccinated,” Dr. Edney said. “The subject of COVID vaccination has unfortunately become politicized, but there are some truths based on available community data and on current medical science that are indisputable.”
“What clearly is happening, however, is that unvaccinated people are getting COVID at an unprecedented rate, they are getting sick and are requiring hospitalization,” Dr. Leonard said. “This preventable stress on our already stressed healthcare system contributes to delays in care across the board. These delays affect those seeking care in the emergency room for a variety of non-COVID emergencies, and with the pausing of elective procedures requiring a hospital overnight stay, now new delays for our friends and neighbors who need surgery.”