SPOKANE, Wash. - Multiple hospitals in the Inland Northwest have announced that they will be re-evaluating and rescheduling some elective surgeries as COVID-19 cases rise in the area. The hospitals who have confirmed this re-evaluation so far are Providence and MultiCare. 

Providence released a statement on the matter, saying "the well-being of our patients and caregivers is our top priority, especially during the current COVID-19 surge. Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Holy Family Hospital are taking steps to ensure we have capacity to care for our community. Effective today, we will reschedule some elective surgeries and procedures. We will review each surgery and patient need on a case-by-case basis and work with patients to reschedule their procedure. This action is directly related to conserving critical care beds and staff as we care for our highest numbers of patients with COVID-19 to date. If you have a procedure scheduled at either hospital and have questions, please contact your doctor's office."

After initially posting this information, KHQ received questions from multiple patients expressing concern about how the rescheduling of surgeries would affect them. We spoke with a spokesperson from Providence who told us, "we understand that rescheduling surgery or a planned procedure is never easy. That is why each patient's situation is carefully reviewed by a team of experts to determine if a delay of 90 days or more from the date of review would cause harm to the patient. A number of criteria are taken into account, including such things as the urgency of the surgery, duration of symptoms and the risks associated with a delay. We work to find the best solution for each patient. We recognize this is not ideal, but the pandemic has now reached a point in which we must delay some non-urgent or elective surgeries and procedures in order to continue providing care to all those who require hospitalization.  Our hospitals do not have unlimited capacity. We are making these decisions to ensure we have capacity to care for those in our communities. This is a good time to again ask everyone to take safety precautions needed to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the number of individuals who need critical care to recover from this virus." 

MultiCare also responded to KHQ, releasing their own statement on the decision saying, "with the holidays upon us, MultiCare is prepared for a potential surge in patients. We’re staying connected to the other health systems in the region so we can collaborate. At MultiCare, we have had our contingency plans in place since the spring as we continue to provide care. Most recently, we’ve pulled back on a few procedures to ensure that we have additional capacity. Surgeons have been asked to use their best clinical judgement to determine whether something can be delayed in the best interest of patient care. For patients that are impacted by these decisions, we are in regular communication. While MultiCare’s hospitals currently have capacity to take care of our community, we are concerned about increasing transmission of this virus. It’s important that everyone wear a mask, stay physically distant and wash hands often. We also encourage people to avoid gathering with friends and family who are not members of their household to prevent transmission."