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HCA hospitals in St. Lucie County delaying certain surgeries and procedures to preserve COVID-19 supplies

'It does not just affect the patients, it affects our practice,' doctor says
Posted at 11:21 PM, Jul 14, 2020

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — Certain inpatient and hospital-based outpatient surgeries and procedures are being delayed at HCA hospitals in St. Lucie County.

That includes Lawnwood Regional Medical Center and St. Lucie Medical Center.

The changes will go into effect Thursday at St. Lucie Medical Center. The changes are already in effect at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center.

A spokesperson for the hospital network said they are delaying those elective procedures to create additional capacity for COVID-19 patients, preserve PPE, and support staffing needs.

“The number of COVID cases in our communities are (is) increasing daily, and we need to ensure that our caregivers and hospitals are in a position to provide safe, effective, and compassionate care to our patients, said Charles Gressle, President of HCA East Florida Division. “We will continue to monitor the situation closely, making adjustments as necessary.”

Patients whose procedures will be delayed will be contacted by their surgeon.

Dr. Ed Rossario, an orthopedic surgeon with the Coastal Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Center, said he has dozens of patients who might be impacted. This is the second round of delays to elective surgeries that he will be experiencing.

“Some of the patients that I have on the schedule coming up in the very near future were already rescheduled from when the pandemic started, so these individuals have been in pain for months,” said Dr. Rossario.

However, some procedures might still be given consideration if the procedure is still medically necessary to ensure a patient’s wellbeing, according to HCA.

“If we can justify that the patient’s truly incapacitated, in severe pain, at risk of falling, and things like that, we can actually justify their surgery,” said Dr. Rossario.

He is not convinced suspending these procedures will show immediate results in the hospitals.

“For elective surgeries that we do, most of our patients either go home the same day or one day after, so we’re not clogging up patient beds, to begin with,” Dr. Rossario said.

Limiting procedures may also impact local jobs.

“It does not just affect the patients, it affects our practice, our ability to pay our employees. We have 70 employees in our group,” said Dr. Rossario.

HCA has not said how long the suspension of elective surgeries might last.

The HCA spokesperson also said this change does not affect surgeries performed at HCA Healthcare Ambulatory Surgery Centers.