Thousands of healthcare workers quarantined, hospitals forced to cancel nonurgent surgeries

Thousands of healthcare workers are testing positive for COVID-19, leaving hospitals and medical groups with critical shortages.

Salt Lake City-based University of Utah Health canceled nonurgent inpatient surgeries Jan. 5-14, according to an internal email reported by Gephardt Daily, because of the rising COVID-19 hospitalizations and infection rate among staff. The CDC recommends healthcare workers quarantine for five days after testing positive for COVID-19.

Cleveland Clinic also reported seeing high volumes of COVID-19 patients Dec. 28 and, as of Dec. 30, reported that 3,000 caregivers were out with COVID-19. The health system also halted nonurgent procedures until mid-January.

Hospitals in New York and Massachusetts have also reported hundreds of staff members quarantined after testing positive for COVID-19, straining hospital operations.

New Mexico and Vermont reported that 52.94 percent of hospitals are experiencing critical staffing shortages, according to HHS data posted Jan. 3, which is the highest in the nation. Rhode Island, Arizona, West Virginia, California, South Carolina, Kentucky and North Dakota all have more than 30 percent of their hospitals reporting critical staffing shortages.

ASCs could fill the gap to lend healthcare workers to partnering hospitals or accept nonurgent cases that cannot be performed in the hospital. Throughout the pandemic, ASCs have been available and developed relationships with other providers in their communities to coordinate care for patients in need.

The omicron and delta variants are particularly contagious, and surgery centers could find themselves short-staffed as well. As of Jan. 4, COVID-19 hospitalizations were up in 34 states.

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