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Some Texas Medical Center hospitals postpone elective surgeries amid rise in COVID cases

Officials with the Texas Medical Center said each hospital is making that decision on its own.

HOUSTON — The 4th COVID-19 wave in Houston is here, and many hospitals in the Texas Medical Center are choosing to postpone some elective surgeries.

Officials with the Texas Medical Center said each hospital is making that decision on its own. And they're doing this to create more bed space for the increase of COVID cases in the area.

"We are currently evaluating our surgery schedule on a regular basis. And the following assessment and postponing surgeries only if we feel we can safely do so," said Dr. Larry Hollier, Surgeon-in-Chief at Texas Children’s Hospital

This has to do with the fast increase of COVID hospitalizations.

According to the Texas Medical Center data, last month they had 51 hospitalizations a day. Last week, they had 249 a day.

Thursday, that number jumped to 336 new COVID patients hospitalized. That’s a 550 percent increase from last month. But again it's not just adults that are ending up in the hospital.

"It clearly affects children, and some children do get seriously ill and require mechanical ventilation," Dr. Hollier said. "In some cases, children are co-infected with COVID and RSV. They have both of these conditions.

In the previous COVID spikes Texas Children’s Hospital has helped its neighbors by taking in adult patients, and this time, things will be evaluated. 

"I think is hard to predict where this pandemic will go, and we are just evaluating this on a case-by-case basis," Dr. Hollier said. 

So what other hospitals are postponing elective procedures? Here’s what we know:

Texas Children’s Hospital

"Texas Children’s Hospital has postponed some elective procedures. Given this is an ever-changing situation, our teams are meeting daily to assess and prioritize patients’ needs. We have surge plans in place and we are prepared to handle the latest wave of COVID-19 cases combined with a highly unusual summer surge of patients diagnosed with RSV."

Memorial Hermann

"Today, we have postponed some non-urgent procedures and surgeries. At Memorial Hermann hospitals, the administrative and physician leadership teams meet daily to review predicted bed capacity to determine surgical case prioritization for the next day. We continually prioritize based on our patient's needs to ensure we are addressing all levels of care. We are fortunate that we have a large system and significant bed capacity that is geographically dispersed, which allows us to transfer cases, as needed and manage our patients’ highest priority needs in the most effective way."

Harris Health System

Ben Taub & LBJ hospitals say they have stopped all elective surgeries: "We are reviewing all Hospital surgical cases to determine acuity and urgency. Urgent and emergent surgeries are being performed."

Methodist Hospital

"Currently, we are attempting to maintain our surgical schedule in order to continue providing care to the entire community while balancing the needs of our patients with COVID. Unfortunately, it’s not a set formula and we have to alter our game plan during each surge. We review the schedule daily and into the future to assist in balancing our bed capacity. This means we may move procedures to new dates in order to smooth out the schedule and keep beds open for COVID. We also continue to develop innovative and safe alternatives to overnight hospital stays. We appreciate the patience of our community as we balance their needs and provide necessary and timely medical care.”

St. Luke's Health System

"The safety of our patients and employees is our top priority. We are concerned over the increasing COVID-19 related cases and strongly urge everyone to get vaccinated and follow masking and distancing guidelines. We continue to monitor and manage the increase in hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients and non-COVID-19 patients. In response to capacity and critical staffing shortages, St. Luke’s Health assesses patient needs and resource availability on a daily basis. We are performing urgent and emergent cases as deemed clinically necessary by our physicians, and are reviewing all other procedures on a case-by-case basis."