Responding to the local spike in COVID-19 cases, UW Medicine has announced it will postpone all non-urgent surgeries until Jan. 14.
In an email to patients, the health care complex explained it would take a series of other steps to maximize hospital resources — including staffing and available beds — amid the current rise in coronavirus infections.
Besides delaying non-urgent surgeries, UW Medicine is also restricting its coronavirus testing to individuals who already show COVID symptoms and limiting hospital visitors to one person for one hour during visiting hours. All visitors must also show proof of full vaccination against coronavirus or proof of a negative COVID test taken within three days of the visit.
UW Medicine is also encouraging patients to consult with their doctors via telehealth — including patients experiencing COVID symptoms.
A spokesperson for UW Medicine said about 65 COVID patients are currently admitted to its four hospitals, which have a bed capacity of over 1,500. At the pandemic’s peak, those four hospitals had admitted around 125 COVID patients.
As of Dec. 29 — the most recently available information from the state Department of Health — COVID patients occupied 15.7% of Washington’s ICU beds.
The recent spike in coronavirus infections, which officials attribute to the highly contagious omicron variant, has set records in Washington state. On Thursday, the state Department of Health reported 6,888 new cases — which broke the previous daily record of 6,140 reported on Dec. 24.
In the email to patients, UW Medicine said its medical staff is in the process of reviewing each upcoming surgery and will only reschedule those that can be safely postponed — and that patients whose surgeries have been delayed will be contacted.
Patients and visitors are encouraged to check uwmedicine.org for further information and updates.