PLATTSBURGH — Due to workforce shortages, an increase in patients and a “significant” number of COVID positive admissions, the University of Vermont Health Network Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital on Friday announced that, for three weeks, it will be pausing elective surgeries that require inpatient admission.
The decision, the hospital said in a news release, was made to preserve beds and reduce the number of patients staying in the Emergency Department until a bed on the nursing unit is available.
“It will also help alleviate some of the stress on our people and give us some time to stabilize the staffing,” Chief Medical Officer and Regional Leader Lisa Mark said in the release.
CVPH’s pause comes as the Clinton County Health Department reported 51 additional lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 cases since Thursday, with 254 residents in isolation and 509 in quarantine.
Mark said staffing, like many health care facilities, continues to be a “major concern” at CVPH.
“We have had several staff members leave the organization in the past few months. Some have left to become traveling nurses or have decided to leave health care all together,” she said. “Some have made other work-life balance decisions, taking jobs elsewhere.”
HEALTH CARE SYSTEM
To address the shortage, Mark said, CVPH has been hiring traveling staff to help fill in for vacancies, saying they have provided, “much needed relief."
“The health care system is virtually at a standstill. Patients in our facility who could go to a long care facility are not being transferred, because like us, area nursing homes and assisted living facilities are struggling with staffing,” Mark said. “In the meantime, we have sometimes 20 patients who need beds holding in our [Emergency Department.]”
The influx of new patients and admissions had led to long waits in the Emergency Department and an “enormous strain on the health care team,” the release said.
CVPH had already began limiting transfers from regional hospitals in early October, saying the hospital couldn’t accept patients who would have benefited from higher level of care, but by rescheduling elective surgeries, Mark said, CVPH can begin having available beds and better meet the needs from the community.
Surgical offices at CVPH have been reaching out to patients to reschedule and answer questions, the hospital said. A team is also in place to review surgical and procedural cases to evaluate which patients need care during this time.