BOISE, Idaho — Starting Monday, St. Luke's Health System will no longer schedule elective surgeries in order to manage care capacity. Surgeries that require an overnight stay but can be delayed three months without negative consequences will be postponed until at least Dec. 25.
St. Luke’s will notify all affected patients.
Dr. David Pate, the former President and CEO of St. Luke's and member of Idaho's coronavirus Task Force said just because elective surgeries are not emergencies, it does not mean they are any less important.
"We have patients that have cancers that need certain procedures, we have people that are disabled by bad knees or bad hips," Pate said. "I don't think people understand what the implication of this is because most people have never experienced a problem where they needed medical attention and couldn't get it."
Because the state's largest hospital system can no longer schedule elective surgeries, Idaho could be headed toward a very serious situation if COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to trend upward, according to Pate.
"What I'm talking about is hospitals getting overwhelmed to the point that they can’t care for patients," he said. "They don’t have the beds, they don’t have the resources, and often times they don’t have the staff because often times healthcare workers themselves are infected or in quarantine."
At that point, all Idahoans could be infected.
"Even if you think, 'Well, I'm not going to get coronavirus, this isn’t going to be an issue for me,' maybe you won’t," Pate said. "But maybe you will get a heart attack, maybe you will get a stroke, maybe you will be in a car accident, it’s not that we just don’t have capacity for COVID-19 patients, you run out of capacity for everybody."
Until community spread in Idaho gets under control, Pate is making a desperate plea to keep your distance, avoid large gatherings and wear a mask.
"Regardless of what your political affiliation is, your ideology, your concerns about your freedom, your religious beliefs, whatever it is, it doesn’t matter right now," he said. "We are facing a crisis and we have the power to avert that crisis."
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