East Tennessee hospitals warn elective surgeries could be halted if COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise

Coronavirus

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Four hospital systems are urging caution as the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized at 19 hospitals in the Knox County region more than doubled in the past month.

In a joint statement, Covenant Health, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Tennova Healthcare and The University of Tennessee Medical Center said a further surge in patients could affect care and elective procedures going forward.

According to state submitted hospital data, the number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 throughout our East Tennessee region more than doubled in the past month. Medical staff at the 19 hospitals that provide data for the reports remain vigilant, as the statewide count for new COVID-19 cases reached a daily high on Friday with more than 3,600 positive cases reported. The higher number of COVID-19 patients is still being managed safely by local hospitals, but a further surge could mean that the volume of elective procedures may be affected.

Covenant Health, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Tennova Healthcare and The University of Tennessee Medical Center joint statement

In March, area hospitals stopped elective surgeries out of precaution and to evaluate the potential for a COVID-19 surge. The surgeries began again in May.

“A major surge of new cases in our region could negatively impact the ability of area hospitals to best serve patients who have diagnoses that require hospital care, and the risk of transmitting the virus is likely to increase as people spend more time indoors with cooler temperatures,” according to the hospital system’s statement.

Knox County Health Department on Tuesday reported 67 Knox County residents are currently hospitalized. This does not take into account patients from other surrounding jurisdictions that have sought care in Knox County. The statewide count for new COVID-19 cases reached a daily high on Friday with more than 3,600 positive cases reported.

The hospital systems urged the public to continue following the five core actions:

  • Practice physical distancing (stay 6 feet apart and limit social gatherings).
  • Wear cloth face coverings.
  • Practice proper handwashing.
  • Clean/sanitize surfaces.
  • Stay home if you are sick.

While the hospitals group urged caution they also asked people continue their routine screenings and check-ups. They also asked that people get a flu shot to help limit its spread this season.

“By working together and following the precautions to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and the flu, we’ll keep hospital space free so the medical teams can care for all those who need hospitalization for situations like heart disease, surgery, traumas and injuries and other major illnesses,” the hospitals statement reads. “This also will help keep businesses open and strong and their employees and customers healthy. We thank you in advance for doing all that you can to help keep our community all safe.”

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