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Why MultiCare hospitals in the Spokane area have paused some elective surgeries

MultiCare Media Relations Manager Kevin Maloney said the increase in patients at hospitals is in part due to COVID-19 but there are other factors at play.
Credit: Roger
Mulitcare Deaconess Emergency Room

SPOKANE, Wash. — The rise in hospitalizations in the Spokane area is forcing some hospitals to put a pause on some non-emergency surgeries.

MultiCare Media Relations Manager Kevin Maloney said the increase in patients at hospitals is in part due to COVID-19 but there are other factors at play.

“This time of year, the sun draws more people outside and unfortunately are more prone to accidents in the outdoors,” he said. “We have also seen an increase in essential care that many patients put off earlier in the pandemic. These three categories add up to an increased volume in patients for our hospitals.”

Maloney said all of the company’s hospitals have plans to address a surge in hospitalizations and they can expand or contract their COVID-19 units to serve the community need at the time. He says this is something the hospitals have been doing throughout the pandemic.

“Patient volumes fluctuate on a regular basis and we evaluate whether we need to postpone non-emergency procedures on a day-by-day basis,” Maloney said.

Maloner said while some elective surgeries have been postponed, they are still are continuing many of them. MultiCare is contacting any patient whose elective surgery was postponed they are working to reschedule.   

As of Friday morning, Maloney said hospitals are seeing an increase in patients and they made the decision to postpone scheduled, non-emergency in-patient surgeries to allow for current patient volumes.

KREM 2 also reached out to Providence hospitals who said they are not delaying any procedures.

Some hospitals in the Inland Northwest have recently been at or near capacity, a doctor told KREM 2. As of Friday morning, 49 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized at Kootenai Health in Coeur d'Alene with 19 receiving critical care. The hospital has not seen this number of COVID-19 patients since the virus surged in January 2021.

According to the Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD), 92 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Friday, Aug. 6.  As of July 30, the Washington Department of Health says the weekly average of COVID-19 patients occupying ICU beds is 12%. The overall occupancy of the state’s ICU beds sits at 83% during the same time frame.

Spokane County’s two-week COVID-19 case rate is sitting at 363.9 per 100,000 according to SRHD. The health district also reported 176 new COVID-19 cases on Aug. 6.