Health First postponing some surgeries to free up hospital beds amid surge in COVID-19 cases

Change goes into effect later this week

A health worker prepares equipment in a field hospital for COVID-19 patients at the 11th Army Region base in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, July 2, 2021. As Thailand faces growing numbers of COVID-19 cases and related deaths during a devastating third wave of the coronavirus, there are concerns that it will face a shortage of hospital beds, intensive care units and ventilators for seriously ill patients. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit) (Sakchai Lalit, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Health First in Brevard County has announced plans to postpone some surgeries in an effort to free up hospital beds as COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations continue rising across Central Florida.

Hospital officials made the announcement Monday, saying the change goes into effect later this week.

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“In response to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, effective Thursday, July 29 through August 15, Health First will be postponing scheduled, non-emergent surgeries and procedures which require a hospital bed,” officials with the hospital wrote in a news release.

Officials called the decision proactive and said it was made in the interest of community safety and to ensure the hospital is prepared to provide additional space in the event it’s needed to care for COVID-19 patients in their facilities. The change also provides an opportunity for clinical staff to provide additional support in critical areas, Health First officials said.

The health care system will continue to care for patients and perform all other surgeries and procedures, officials wrote in the release. Patients whose surgeries are impacted by the change will be contacted directly with further instructions, officials said.

Brevard County has seen a total of more than 48,000 COVID-19 infections since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest data from the Florida Department of Health.

Earlier in the day, AdventHealth, Central Florida’s largest hospital chain, announced it had once again elevated its emergency status due to rising COVID-19 patients.

The hospitals had been under a “green” status, or business as normal, for a few months while vaccinations were increasing but on Thursday, AdventHealth announced it was elevating its status to “yellow.” Now, AdventHealth is again upgrading to a level “red.”

A level red status means hospitals will defer all non-time-sensitive elective outpatient surgeries effective Tuesday. Patients will be notified if their surgeries need to be rescheduled.

Despite the elevated status, AdventHealth officials said their system is not at risk of reaching capacity.