By Callie Hietala
Expressing concern about the most recent spike in COVID-19 cases, Sovah Health on January 7 said it is rescheduling elective and non-urgent surgical cases and procedures requiring hospital admission on both its Martinsville and Danville campuses for a period of two weeks.
According to a release from the agency, no other surgeries or procedures will be affected. Decisions about which procedures can safely move forward “will be made by working with our clinical teams to carefully evaluate each patient’s needs.”
The change comes as the rising number of COVID cases indicates substantial spread in the community, which is both disheartening and concerning, the release stated.
“The low vaccination rates in our regions leave our community incredibly vulnerable to severe illness, hospitalization, and death. Sovah Health cannot stress enough how important it is that we continue to remain vigilant in our fight against COVID-19,” according to the release.
“The new COVID variant looks to be far more contagious than previous variants and appears to be having more breakthrough capability among vaccinated people. The impact is now hitting our hospital and impacting our ability to care for our community,” it added.
Alan Larson, market president of Sovah Health and CEO of Sovah Health-Danville, said that other medical facilities across the state have made similar announcements.
“We’ve been here before,” Larson said. “We have experience on surges, and our responses seem to be effective in helping us manage our resources.”
The two-week timeframe should help both facilities catch up and prepare to resume normal operations. “We hope that’s the case,” he said.
However, “we’re disappointed that we have to make this response. We feel that our responsibility as a hospital is to provide care for all of our patients but unfortunately, to take care of a few that are spiking and have increased need, primarily those with COVID, we are required to reduce our services for those who are elective and not urgent,” Larson said.
He emphasized that both facilities remain capable of caring for urgent and emergent cases, such as those experiencing heart attacks or strokes.
Spencer Thomas, CEO of Sovah Health-Martinsville, said “it’s been probably more than a year since we’ve had to do this on the Martinsville campus, but we feel like it’s the right and appropriate thing to do to make sure we have the resources to take care of our patients.”
“It’s unfortunate that we must again take this action to pause elective surgeries,” said Dr. Sheranda Gunn-Nolan, Sovah Health Market Chief Medical Officer. “We would also like to acknowledge the tireless work our team has provided to what equates to over 600 days of a global pandemic. Together, we will get through this.”
Larson said that the increased pressures on medical staff since the beginning of the pandemic are causing a great deal of frustration. He recently read a report indicating that more than 500,000 healthcare workers across the country have left their jobs out of frustration.
“We would appreciate some help from the community so we can do our jobs better and not have to continue to focus on taking care of COVID patients,” he said.