BayCare pauses all elective surgeries in Pinellas, Pasco and Polk as COVID-19 cases increase

BayCare will pause elective surgeries and procedures at all of its hospitals in Pinellas, Pasco and Polk counties, regardless of whether they require an overnight stay, starting Saturday, Aug. 14, to reserve resources for severely ill patients and their immediate needs as cases of COVID-19 rise. 

The healthcare system put elective surgeries on hold at its Hillsborough County facilities earlier this month. 

"COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased 10-fold since the beginning of July, and today we have more than 1,000 COVID positive patients in our 14 acute care hospitals across the Tampa Bay area," said Glenn Waters, chief operating officer for BayCare.  "We’re making these operational adjustments to be sure we can continue providing safe, high-quality care to the recent influx of COVID patients in addition to hundreds of other people in our hospitals with unrelated, serious medical issues."

Elective procedures are those that can be delayed without danger to the patient. BayCare says it has a clinical review process in place to consider requests by patients or doctors who receive a cancelation notice but believe the procedure is medically necessary and should proceed.

"We deeply regret the impact this can make on many people," Waters said.  "We will continue to evaluate the situation and determine at a later date when we can reschedule these appointments."

BayCare says it has seen a rapid increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations due to the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant in recent weeks. According to the healthcare system, the vast majority of these patients were not vaccinated against COVID-19. 

BayCare urges everyone who is eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine, as it is the best line of defense against serious complications from a COVID infection.  

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