Sep. 14—Providence is pausing all non-emergency surgeries and procedures at both Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Holy Family Hospital.
Due to the recent surge in COVID-19 patients, as well as staffing challenges, the health care system announced the indefinite pause on procedures, including those scheduled at the Doctor's Building on the Sacred Heart campus.
If you have a procedure or surgery scheduled in the next two weeks, Providence asks you to call your provider or the office that scheduled the procedure for more information.
Providers will work to reschedule procedures and surgeries on a case-by-case basis, but Providence does not know how long the pause will last.
Local hospitals are redeploying staff to help treat the surge of COVID-19 patients in hospitals in the county, and with limited staff to go around, elective procedures are the first to be put on hold.
Spokane County hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are at higher rates than they were during the winter 2020 surge, with 236 COVID patients currently being treated in the county.
Hospital officials are asking community members to get the vaccine if they haven't already in order to slow the surge in COVID cases .
Hospitals are stretched to their thinnest point since the pandemic began, and statewide there were 1,683 COVID patients hospitalized as of Monday.
Back on Aug. 26, Providence announced they were delaying some surgeries and procedures due to the delay, and today's announcement indicates that COVID trends have not gotten better since.
In the last four weeks, Providence hospitals have averaged a census of 107 COVID patients every day, with 21 of those patients in the ICU.
While the Spokane hospitals are not operating in crisis standards of care, business is far from usual at the facilities.
The amount of COVID patients, the majority of whom are unvaccinated, needing treatment in hospitals is impacting other care in the region.
"We are really concerned about the number of COVID patients in our hospitals causing those without COVID to not get care," Taya Briley, executive vice president at the Washington State Hospital Association, told reporters Monday.
The latest COVID surge in Spokane County has been dramatic for hospitals. In just the last month, nearly 100 more patients are hospitalized with the virus in Spokane hospitals than back in August.
Similarly, deaths due to COVID-19 have increased. Last week alone, the Spokane Regional Health District confirmed 25 deaths.
Spokane County's case and hospitalization rates are both now higher than they were during the winter 2020 surge.
Weekly hospitalizations have remained steady in the county this week compared to last week.
Hospital officials are concerned with large events happening, like the fair or concerts, as well as kids returning to classrooms in-person that the surge might not quell. They are asking everyone to not only mask up indoors and outdoors but also to get vaccinated if you haven't already.
"We're at a very serious point with the number of patients we have in our hospitals that are COVID positive," Peg Currie, chief executive at Providence Spokane, told reporters last Friday.
Local hospital and health care leaders held a joint press briefing at the end of last week begging the community to take the current surge seriously.
In Spokane County, 60.9% of the population 12 years old and older have received at least one dose, and 51.9% of the total population in the county has received at least one dose.
The vast majority of patients in Washington state who are hospitalized with the virus have not been vaccinated.
Arielle Dreher's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper's managing editor.