SALT LAKE CITY — Intermountain Healthcare announced Friday that 13 of its hospitals will postpone many non-urgent surgeries for several weeks starting Sept. 15, as they grapple with the latest COVID-19 surge fueled by the Delta variant.
The decision comes as new COVID-19 cases rapidly rise and unsustainable numbers of mostly unvaccinated COVID-19 patients fill hospitals.
"We need some drastic action in order to preserve the public health," said Dr. Marc Harrison, President and CEO of Intermountain Healthcare.
Harrison said Intermountain hospitals are currently caring for 350 COVID patients across the system, with those numbers rising day by day. Because of the number of COVID cases, he said the decision was made to halt certain surgeries due to lack of space and employees.
"We do not have the capacity at this point in time to take care of people with very urgent conditions yet are not immediately life-threatening."
Harrison succinctly explained who is currently being affected by the current COVID surge.
"Let me say right now, this has rapidly become a pandemic of the medically frail, people like me people with immunity defficiency - and the unvaccinated."
While saying he has empathy for all Utahns, even those who are not vaccinated, Harrison shared harrowing statistics about who hospitals are treating for COVID.
"87% of the people who are in our hospitals with COVID are unvaccinated. They are about 20 years younger than the vaccinated patients and they tend to be much less medically complex," said Harrison. "These are patients who absolutely do not need to be in the hospital."