UnityPoint temporarily pauses elective surgeries amid staffing shortages and strained resources


PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — UnityPoint Health on Wednesday sidelined elective surgeries and procedures, citing strained resources and burnt out staff.

“We’re down to single digit beds. We just need all available staff to care for the patients that are coming in through the emergency department,” said Dr. Samer Sader, chief medical officer at UnityPoint.

Sader said unvaccinated COVID-19 patients in the ICU are clogging the system because they stay three times longer than a typical patient, and they are very sick.

“When you have respiratory failure from COVID, your average stay in the hospital becomes about seven to 12 days and that is way higher than the average use of an ICU bed,” he said, adding the average length of stay in the ICU is three to four days.

It’s a similar situation at Carle BroMenn Medical Center in the Twin Cities.

“They are our sickest, most time consuming. They’re staying in the hospital 13, 14, 15 days and you know that just shrinks up your capacity to care for patients, and then you get staff that gets sick,” said Dr. James Nevin, vice president and chief medical officer at Carle.

Nevin said the hospital is going day-by-day, but they are not following UnityPoint’s suit yet.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have a crystal ball. We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. We don’t know what our capacity is tomorrow we have to keep our finger on the pulse every day, every hour,” he said.

Nevin said his staff is resilient but exasperated with the influx of patients who shouldn’t be there in the first place.

“I think there is a certain amount of exhaustion and frustration, frustration taking care of patients that won’t take care of themselves and what I mean by those that have elected not to get vaccinated,” he said.

He is pleading for those who are still hesitant to get vaccinated.

“I just do not understand what the resistance is. If there were truly dangerous side effects and consequences out there, we would know by now,” said Nevin.

Individuals who have an upcoming elective surgery at UnityPoint should expect a call from their doctor or surgeon to reschedule.

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