Sparrow to pause elective surgeries amid surging COVID-19 hospitalizations

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LANSING – A Lansing hospital plans to pause elective surgeries as the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations reaches historically high levels in Michigan.

Sparrow Hospital said it expected to halt non-urgent, elective surgeries by the end of the day Tuesday because it's running out of space.

"We're very full, and we're trying to find a way to free up space," spokesman John Foren said, adding that the hospital system was on a pace to exceed its all-time peak in-patient levels within the next week or two.

The hold on surgeries would apply only to Sparrow's main Lansing hospital and include only procedures that don't need to be done right away, Foren said. Urgent surgeries will continue as usual, he said.

The number of hospitalized adults with confirmed COVID-19 infections in Michigan reached a new pandemic high on Monday, according to state numbers.

The total of 4,185 hospitalizations exceeds the previous peak of 4,158 set seven months ago, the Associated Press reported.

Health officials continued to urge people to get vaccinated and to wear masks indoors amid a fourth surge of the coronavirus. As of Sunday, only Minnesota had a higher seven-day average COVID-19 case rate than Michigan, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The state reported 25,329 new cases from Thursday through Monday, an average of 5,066 per day.

"Our COVID numbers are too high," Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told reporters during an appearance in the Detroit suburb of Taylor on Monday. "Any COVID is too high, especially when we have access to vaccines and we know masking works."

The state health department said the vast majority of people who died from COVID-19 or were hospitalized with the disease from mid-January to mid-November were not fully vaccinated.

Systemwide, Sparrow had about 148 patients with COVID-19, about 70 percent of whom were not fully vaccinated, Foren said.

The hospital system does not intend to curtail outpatient procedures, he said.

"We're most concerned about in-patient procedures," he said.

In a brief statement, McLaren Greater Lansing said it's seen a significant rise in COVID-19 patients requiring in-patient care but hasn't curtailed any procedures because of it.

"We are continuously monitoring our COVID status and our resources to continue to deliver care to the community," Dr. Linda Peterson, McLaren Greater Lansing's chief medical officer, said in the email.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact Ken Palmer at kpalmer@lsj.com. Follow him on Twitter @KBPalm_lsj.

This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: Sparrow to pause elective surgeries amid surging COVID-19 hospitalizations

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