LEWES — Beebe Healthcare will be postponing all non-emergency surgeries effective Thursday.
However, the health system said in a press release it is not yet at the stage where it would be forced to adopt Crisis Standards of Care. Several of the state’s hospitals, including ChristianaCare, Bayhealth, TidalHealth Nanticoke and Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic-Saint Francis, entered these protocols on Monday due to what they called “unprecedented demand for hospital and health care services” in a joint statement.
Beebe added its situation is critical and can change at any moment.
Previously, Beebe had only postponed elective procedures that required an overnight stay. But now all non-emergent procedures will be postponed so that staff and beds can be reassigned for inpatient care.
Beebe said the decision is directly related to the continued surge in COVID-19 positive patients that require hospitalization and care. The health system said it is facing significant pressures on staff, care teams and providers during this surge.
“Right now, it’s more difficult than ever to deliver healthcare,” Dr. David Tam, Beebe’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “Our emergency departments and hospital are past capacity. We are making operational adjustments to keep up with the growing demand for healthcare in Sussex County, but this is not sustainable.”
Delaware is experiencing a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 746 statewide and 182 in Sussex County, according to the Delaware Division of Public Health’s daily update Wednesday.
The latest surge is spurred by the omicron variant. Omicron, for those who are vaccinated and received a booster, tends to present milder symptoms, but this is not what Beebe is seeing in the hospital for those who are unvaccinated, Beebe said in a press release.
“People are very sick. This is a heartfelt ask to our community to assist us during this unmatched surge,” Dr. Tam said. “The fluid nature of this pandemic, the plateauing of vaccinated people in our community, and the national staffing shortage, all combine to make it extremely difficult to predict when we could move into another standard of care.
Certain procedures and surgeries will continue at Beebe, including those that screen for progressive diseases such as cancer that could have longer-term consequences if not identified for patients. Examples of these procedures include colonoscopies, biopsies and endoscopies, as well as access to dialysis.
Patients will be contacted by their surgeon’s office, and Beebe’s multidisciplinary team will continue to evaluate cases daily for the health of all patients.