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LIST: Some East Tennessee hospitals are delaying non-essential procedures because of COVID-19 surge

UT Medical Center and Parkwest Medical Center are delaying non-emergency procedures at this time, while other hospitals are evaluating on a daily basis.

Many hospitals in East Tennessee are so overwhelmed with treating patients with COVID-19 that they are deferring non-essential procedures right now.

Hospitals are breaking hospitalization rates routinely now, according to Dr. Keith Gray, chief medical officer at UT Medical Center. He said there was a 10 percent increase in hospitalizations just over the last weekend, particularly in people over age 50.

Hospital resources are being "challenged and I would say stressed" by current patient volumes, he said.

10News checked with several local hospitals for the status of non-emergency procedures. Here's what they told us, as of December 9. 

UT Medical Center has begun deferring non-essential procedures that require an in-patient stay as a way of creating more capacity to accommodate virus patients.

Dr. Gray said Tuesday the virus outbreak is the worst seen since the pandemic began and it's expected to get worse in the coming days and weeks.

Tennova Hospitals in the region continue to perform elective procedures but officials review the schedule daily to ensure they have the appropriate resources. 

"While we've been preparing for the surge, this is a serious situation. We urge the community to continue to follow CDC-recommended masking and social distancing measures," said spokesperson Ann Metz.

Each of Covenant Health’s nine acute care hospitals is responsible for assessing and responding to its COVID-19 situation in the best way possible to support its own individual situation. Leaders at Parkwest Medical Center has postponed non-urgent cases that require overnight stays in order to reallocate patient care resources for unprecedented COVID-19 patient volumes. Ahead of scheduled surgical appointments, procedures are being evaluated on a daily basis by a team of administration and medical staff leaders. A cap on scheduled cases will be extended through the end of the year to redirect resources and reschedule procedures. 

"This surge in cases was expected during this holiday season. Parkwest remains prepared to meet the medical needs of the community and has the ability to collaborate with other Covenant Health hospitals if additional services are needed. This can include transferring patients to another Covenant Health hospital if needed on a case-by-case basis," officials said. 

East Tennessee Children’s Hospital does not have plans at this time to defer elective or non-urgent procedures. Hospital leaders are collaborating with our other hospital partners, communicating regularly, and planning the response together. There is not a need for Children’s Hospital to accept adult patients at this time.

Blount Memorial Hospital is not deferring elective procedures, as a whole, but is occasionally adjusting surgical schedules for non-emergent cases that require an inpatient admission after surgery. Outpatient surgical cases remain unaffected, according to spokesperson Josh West.