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Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Health to postpone certain non-urgent elective medical procedures

Intermountain Medical Center
Posted at 6:49 PM, Mar 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 00:34:41-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Health announced Monday that they will be postponing some procedures to prepare for an expected surge of coronavirus patients.

The hospitals will contact patients who scheduled upcoming "non-urgent elective" procedures. Their procedures will be rescheduled after the expected surge is over.

"We’re doing what we can to prepare for the situation," said Dr. Sam Finlayson, Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery for University of Utah Health.

The decision comes based on recommendations from the U.S. Surgeon General, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Surgeons, health officials said. It will open up space and beds for those with COVID-19, along with preserving supplies and freeing up medical staff.

Plus, both healthcare systems explained, it's helping them practice social distancing.

"This is a step that is part of what I see as a broad state effort to create social distancing, and to make sure that we do everything we can to minimize the peak of this curve, and to spread things out overtime," said Dr. Mark Briesacher, Senior Vice President and Chief Physician Executive with Intermountain Healthcare. He added that they do not want to "unduly stress the healthcare resources that we have."

Dr. Finlayson said U of U Health is also slowing down non-urgent clinic visits. Both healthcare systems said they'll still take care of urgent emergencies and continue to move forward with procedures for conditions like cancer.

"While this change may create challenging situations for some people, it is a necessary and appropriate step given the anticipated growth in the number of Utah cases of COVID-19," an announcement from Intermountain read. "Intermountain and University of Utah Health facilities will continue to provide care for urgent situations and emergency patients as it always does."

They indicated that it's hard to say exactly how long the postponements will last.

"I don’t think that this is going to pass quickly," Dr. Finlayson said. "This is going to be a matter of weeks and possibly months. Our plan is to measure this situation as it comes, and try to respond to it appropriately."

Watch the full press conference where this was announced below: