BayCare to Pause Some Non-Urgent Surgeries in Pinellas County
Plan Will Increase Bed Capacity for COVID-19 Patients
CLEARWATER, Fla. (July 3, 2020) – In the interest of public health, BayCare Health System announced Friday it will begin reducing the number of non-urgent surgeries performed in its Pinellas County hospitals to ensure there is capacity for a growing number of severely-ill COVID-19 patients.
The temporary change in policy does not apply to BayCare’s hospitals in Hillsborough, Polk and Pasco counties, but would be adopted if those communities also face a dearth of available hospital beds to care for COVID-19 patients.
“These are never easy decisions to make, as so many people see their lives improve after a non-urgent procedure,” said Tommy Inzina, CEO of BayCare Health System. “But this is about making sure our community has the maximum resources at its disposal to address the second peak of this pandemic. We exist to serve our community, particularly during a health crisis.”
BayCare’s temporary policy is effective starting Friday, July 10, at 5 p.m. for its four acute care hospitals in Pinellas County: St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater, Mease Countryside Hospital in Safety Harbor and Mease Dunedin Hospital.
Under the plan, all surgeries for life-threatening situations will continue to be performed. And unlike the state-mandated ban on elective surgeries earlier this year, BayCare’s effort will still allow many non-urgent surgeries and procedures to continue. Generally, surgeries that could be deferred are those that are not medically urgent and require overnight recovery in the hospital.
BayCare’s Ambulatory Surgery Centers, which specialize in outpatient surgery and were closed under the earlier government ban on electives, will continue to operate.
“This policy will impact far fewer people’s health care than the previous ban this year on all non-urgent surgeries,” Inzina said. “This is really about one key resource that we need to be sure we have available and that is hospital beds for those battling COVID-19.”
Pinellas County has seen available hospital bed capacity decline significantly in the past month due to rising COVID-19 cases. BayCare developed its plan in concert with HCA HealthCare, the county’s other major health care system. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, health care systems across West Central Florida have been voluntarily working together to identify the best way to meet the needs of the communities they serve.
About BayCare Health System
BayCare is a leading not-for-profit health care system that connects individuals and families to a wide range of services at 15 hospitals and hundreds of other convenient locations throughout the Tampa Bay and central Florida regions. Inpatient and outpatient services include acute care, primary care, imaging, laboratory, behavioral health, home care, and wellness. Our mission is to improve the health of all we serve through community-owned, health care services that set the standard for high-quality, compassionate care. For more information, visit www.BayCare.org.