January 11, 2022
Hospitals and healthcare systems throughout the US continue to face challenges from the latest omicron variant-driven COVID-19 surge in patients requiring hospitalization, as well as workforce shortages related to staff contracting the virus and other workplace factors. These difficulties affect the spectrum of hospital-based care, including what are considered "elective," nonemergency surgical procedures.
Becker's Hospital Review had been providing updates on the staffing situation that many hospitals are experiencing. It reports that more than 19% of hospitals in the US—nearly 1,200—are experiencing critical staffing shortages, with that number anticipated to grow this week. The articles also breakdown the percentage of hospitals in each state that are experiencing shortages, the worst of which span the country's diverse regions.
These severe shortages also continue to force hospitals to make difficult decisions to delay surgeries and even close services such as labor and delivery and the intensive care unit, as Becker's notes in articles summarizing actions taken in 11 hospitals. From the University of Utah Hospital, Salt Lake City, to Chicago, IL, area hospitals, to the National Institutes of Health hospital in Bethesda, MD, operations are being postponed. These changes in availability for surgery are expected to increase as the current COVID-19 surge reaches its asynchronous peak across the US.
The ACS continues to monitor this situation and will keep you informed about relevant information.