Hospitals Postpone Non-Emergency Surgeries To Clear Way For Coronavirus Patients

Mar 18, 2020

UNC Health set up a medical triage tent in front of its main hospital in Chapel Hill specifically for coronavirus patients.
Credit Jay Price / WUNC

Hospital systems across the state have begun to postpone many elective surgeries to get ready for an expected wave of COVID-19 cases. 

Emergency treatment and surgeries won't be affected.

The latest health care systems to announce they're rescheduling or prioritizing such procedures are Triangle-based Duke Health, UNC Health and WakeMed.

"We are working closely together to combat the spread of COVID-19 and to serve the people of our state," the heads of the three systems, A. Wesley Burks, CEO of UNC Health, A. Eugene Washington, President and CEO of Duke University Health System and Donald R. Gintzig, President & CEO of WakeMed, said through a joint statement. "The current situation impacts us all greatly, and we are working together to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our thousands of healthcare professionals, our patients and their families. We believe this move will further our commitment to all of these groups."

Hospital systems in the Triad issued a similar statement, and Veterans Health Administration medical centers across the state and Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg have similar policies.
Those moves were in the works before a news conference midday today in which Vice President Mike Pence recommended such measures nationwide.

These postponements free up beds, conserve protective gear such as masks and gowns, and free staff time for additional training to deal with the virus or to help with the growing number of potential cases.