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BayCare Reducing Elective Surgeries Due To Rising COVID-19 Hospitalizations

doctors in a hospital

BayCare Health System is cutting back on non-emergency surgeries in its hosptials in Pinellas and Pasco counties to ensure there is capacity for a growing number of severely-ill COVID-19 patients.

The group announced on Friday that the policy will go into effect on July 10 at 5 p.m. for St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Morton Plant and Mease Countryside hospitals in Clearwater and Mease Dunedin Hospital. Non-urgent surgeries will be reduced at Morton Plant North Bay in New Port Richey starting July 13. 

BayCare said this is not a ban on elective surgeries. The group said many will still be allowed to continue and BayCare’s Ambulatory Surgery Centers, which specialize in outpatient surgery and were closed under the state’s earlier ban, will continue to operate.

All surgeries for life-threatening situations will continue to be performed at all facilities.  

“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, in a news release. “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 cited a significant decline in available hospital beds in the past month as the reason for the policy change in Pinellas. HCA Healthcare announced a similar move in its county hospitals earlier this week.

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 wind up needing more beds.

I cover health care for WUSF and the statewide journalism collaborative Health News Florida. I’m passionate about highlighting community efforts to improve the quality of care in our state and make it more accessible to all Floridians. I’m also committed to holding those in power accountable when they fail to prioritize the health needs of the people they serve.