With the number of patients testing positive for COVID-19 rising eightfold since late June, Lakeland Regional Health today announced it will temporarily postpone elective surgeries that require an overnight hospital stay.

Doing so “will allow us to create additional physical capacity, as well as have additional clinicians available to care for the high census of patients positive for COVID-19 at the Medical Center,” said Dr. Timothy Regan, LRH’s chief medical officer.

The hospital is currently treating more than 350 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, CEO Danielle Drummond said. That’s nearly twice the daily peak of 180 reached during January’s surge of the virus and 8.5 times the 41 the hospital reported on June 25.

Lakeland Regional reported Monday that 36 COVID-positive patients were in the intensive care unit and 23 were on a ventilator.

The temporary postponement of some elective surgeries starts next Monday. Same-day surgeries and urgent/emergent surgeries will not be affected by the policy, LRH said in a news release. Affected patients will be contacted to reschedule their procedures, the news release said.

“We have been consistently finding innovative ways to care for the increased number of patients we are seeing, and postponing elective surgeries is an additional way for us to provide more space and resources for our patients,” Drummond said.

The hospital plans to continue its current visitation policy, which allows one visitor per patient with these exceptions:

  • Obstetric hospital patients: One labor partner and a doula.
  • Pediatric, Children’s Emergency and NICU patients: Both parents.
  • Patients at the end of life: Visitors with approval of nursing leader in charge of unit.
  • Patients undergoing surgery: Two visitors.
  • Emergency Department respiratory patients: No visitation unless approved by the department leader.

All hospital visitors are screened, have their temperatures checked and must wear a mask while visiting.

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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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