LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 24, 2020) — UK HealthCare will be closing five of its 32 operating rooms (ORs) at UK Chandler Hospital beginning Monday, Nov. 30 to decrease hospital admissions, increasing capacity for COVID patients.
The move does not affect the 10 ORs at UK Good Samaritan Hospital or eight ORs in the Center for Advanced Surgery.
This move also allows additional personnel and resources to be redeployed to other areas that need additional staff. This temporary closure is a proactive decision that allows our surgeons, nurses and coordinators time to inform and reschedule patients.
This closure is very different from April 2020, said Dr. Mark F. Newman, University of Kentucky Executive Vice President for Health Affairs. Some differences from the previous closures include:
- Elective procedures will continue,
- Employees are not being furloughed.
- Knowledge of how to treat virus is better, from natural course to treatment as well as ample COVID testing and more than adequate PPE.
“Finally, and most importantly, we have done this once before,” Newman said. “We have clear indications for when to scale back versus re-open.”
The United States is in the midst of a third COVID surge. Unprecedented infection rates are reported from Oklahoma to North Dakota, which has an infection rate greater than 50%. Kentucky is no exception and positivity rates have increased from 5% to 9% in the month of November.
UK HealthCare’s COVID-positive patient numbers continue to grow and during the last week, the total COVID census has increased above 70 patients daily. Predictive models are also working to account for the expected congregation of people at Thanksgiving and models show an increase in COVID cases three weeks from now.
If UK HealthCare experiences a surge beyond 90 total COVID patients, additional closures will be considered. The current reduction is estimated to last through the month of December and will be evaluated weekly.
“Closing ORs is no easy decision. It impacts our staff, physicians and patients in many expected and sometimes unexpected ways,” Newman said. “However, this is the right decision for the uncertainty that lies ahead.”