Avera, Sanford shift surgeries to fulfill staffing, patient needs amid COVID-19 surge

Avera Health and Sanford Health, both based in Sioux Falls, S.D., are adjusting surgery plans to accommodate patient and staffing needs as COVID-19 surges, according to officials at the health systems.

Avera Health is expanding surge capacity at its flagship facility, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center, and temporarily moving surgeries from the Avera Surgery Center to other surgical locations, officials said in a statement. Less than 5 percent of surgeries will be postponed.

The change, meant to free up workers for inpatient care, is expected to occur next week.

“As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in our community and across the state, we need additional staff for our inpatient units to meet the increasing needs of our patients,” says an email sent to employees and obtained by the Argus Leader.

Sanford Health is halting additional elective cases requiring an overnight stay, system CMO Mike Wilde, MD, said in a statement. New elective cases requiring an overnight stay will not be scheduled for Oct. 19-23 but scheduled elective surgeries will continue as planned.

Dr. Wilde said the change is to accommodate patient flow at the health system.

“We continue to see large numbers of patients seeking care at all of our Sanford facilities, and we continue to work hard to care for all patients,” he said. “We have discussed our surge plans to accommodate patients, including prioritizing patients with the greatest need, as well as caring for certain adult patients in the Children’s Castle, room occupancy, and surgery scheduling.”

Sanford Health will continue to evaluate surgical needs, Dr. Wilde said.

The latest state health department data updated Oct. 15 showed 304 people were hospitalized in South Dakota due to COVID-19, and 700 new confirmed cases were reported.

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