MCH to suspend all elective surgeries amid surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations

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ODESSA, Texas (Nexstar)- Odessa hospitals held a news conference Monday to update the community on hospitalizations amid a recent coronavirus surge. Representatives from Odessa Regional Medical Center as well as Medical Center Hospital said they will hold these conferences twice a week for the foreseeable future. 

MCH said it is caring for 88 patients with coronavirus as of Monday afternoon, that’s up 18 from Friday. 27 of those patients are on ventilators. 70 of the hospitalized patients are unvaccinated, according to CEO Russell Tippin. The ages of the patients range from 19 to 96. 

ORMC is caring for 26 patients, 5 of those are on a ventilator. A representative for ORMC said 96% of their patients are unvaccinated, and they range in age from 21 to over 60. In Big Spring, nurses and doctors at Scenic Mountain Medical Center are caring for 12 patients with coronavirus, three of those are on ventilators. 92% of the patients hospitalized in Big Spring are unvaccinated. Those patients range in age from 21 to over 60. 

The overwhelming majority of hospitalized patients are unvaccinated, according to hospital data. The CDC says the infection rate across the US for fully vaccinated people is 0.02%. 

“You can see that vaccinated individuals are getting COVID, but at a very, very small rate,” said ORMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rohith Saravanan. 

“It is very easy to tell the difference between the vaccinated and unvaccinated cause the vaccinated seem to be tolerating this much better than the unvaccinated,” said Tippin. 

Hospital officials continue to urge the community to get vaccinated, wear masks, and avoid large groups of people. 

The current surge of hospitalized patients is taxing the ability of area hospitals to provide care for all patients, even those without the virus. 

Monday, MCH announced that all elective surgeries will be canceled beginning Tuesday. The main OR will be used for urgent or emergent surgeries only. Staff from the outpatient surgery center will be moved to other areas of the hospital to help care for sick patients until elective surgeries resume. 

“This morning we made the decision to eliminate all elective procedures starting tomorrow. That will open our main OR up to only those cases that are urgent and emergent. We understand that there are going to be cases where they really do need to have a procedure, they need a port put in, something for ongoing treatment. An example, cancer patients that just cannot continue to wait without surgery, those cases will still go on. We’ll be screening those, we have tools in place,” said Chief Nursing Officer Christin Timmons. 

That means patients waiting for knee surgery, or sinus surgery, or hernia repair, etc., their surgeries will be put on hold until the hospitalization rate starts to decrease again. 

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