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COVID-19 Surge Affects Staffing, Bed Availability, Elective Surgeries

Published on November 18, 2020

Memorial Hospital has reached critical staffing levels and bed availability due to the surge in COVID-19 related illness. As a result, elective surgeries at Memorial Hospital's Wortman Surgery Center are temporarily being suspending in order to dedicate staff and resources to inpatient and emergency care. Emergency surgical procedures will be performed as needed.

As per previous public health guidelines, elective surgeries were temporarily halted in late March, then with the easing of restrictions and low positivity rates, surgeries resumed in June. Memorial Hospital's current suspension of elective procedures comes at a time when COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in Nebraska, putting hospitals state-wide extremely close to peak patient volumes.

"When we talk about a surge, we're saying that patient volumes have reached a level that challenges our standard resources and ability to adjust to increased activity due to caring for an increasing number of COVID-19 patients," says Lindy Flynn, director of nursing at Memorial Hospital. "This also affects those who are hospitalized for heart attacks, stroke, accidents, and a number of other health conditions – as these are still occurring despite the need to care for COVID patients."

Memorial Community Health's CEO Diane Keller commented that, "Our staff is currently being stretched both physically and mentally as the stress of additional patient load, PPE needs, and working more shifts to cover for co-workers who may need to care for loved ones at home, or become ill themselves, takes its toll." Keller further noted that, "It's not just front line workers, it's affecting our entire organization including housekeeping, maintenance, dietary, and administrative staff –throughout all four divisions, including our clinics, hospital, long-term care, and assisted and independent living facility. It's wearing on everyone and we need the help of the community to help slow down the spread of the virus."

The Memorial Community Health healthcare team strongly urges our community to take steps immediately by wearing a mask, being vigilant about hand washing/sanitizing, keeping a 6 ft. physical distance from others, and avoiding the 3 C's – crowded places, close contacts, and confined spaces. All of these measures work together to provide the best chance of reducing the spread of COVID-19. "We're at a point where it's absolutely critical that our community help stop the spread so that our healthcare systems are not completely overwhelmed and faced with the difficult decisions in terms of who is to receive care, and who may have to wait," says Keller.