July 13, 2020
By: PR and Staff
TAMPA, Fla. – BayCare Health System announced Monday it will begin reducing the number of non-urgent surgeries performed at its hospitals in Hillsborough and Polk counties due to the rising number of severely-ill COVID-19 patients.
The temporary change in policy is effective Thursday, July 16, at 5 p.m., and impacts all six of BayCare’s Hillsborough hospitals: St. Joseph’s, St. Joseph’s Children’s, St. Joseph’s Women’s in Tampa; St. Joseph’s-North in Lutz; St. Joseph’s-South in Riverview; and South Florida Baptist in Plant City. It also applies to BayCare’s three hospitals in Polk County: Winter Haven, Winter Haven Women’s and Bartow Regional Medical Center.
“We don’t make the decision lightly as we know it will impact many of our patients who would prefer to have a non-urgent surgery sooner than later, said Tommy Inzina, CEO of BayCare Health System. “But this is about serving the public health and making sure our communities have the maximum resources to address the second peak of this pandemic.”
Under the plan, all surgeries for life-threatening situations will continue to be performed. And unlike the state-mandated ban on elective surgeries earlier this year, BayCare’s effort will still allow many non-urgent surgeries and procedures to continue. Generally, surgeries that could be deferred are those that are not medically urgent and require overnight recovery in the hospital.
BayCare’s Ambulatory Surgery Centers, which specialize in outpatient surgery and were closed under the earlier government ban on electives, will continue to operate.
In the past month, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk and Pasco counties have seen available hospital bed capacity decline significantly due to rising COVID-19 cases. Already, BayCare had implemented the same temporary change in surgical scheduling at its Pinellas County hospitals on July 11 and at Morton Plant North Bay Hospital in Pasco County starting today (July 13).
BayCare developed its plan in concert with HCA HealthCare, one of the region’s other major health care systems. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, health care systems across West Central Florida have been voluntarily working together to identify the best way to meet the needs of the communities they serve.
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