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Elective surgeries could happen again in Utah as soon as this week

COVID-19 temporarily put the breaks on elective surgeries in Utah. Now that the state is starting to flatten the curve, patients could be allowed to go under the knife again as early as this week. Pexels

SALT LAKE CITY – COVID-19 temporarily put the brakes on elective surgeries in Utah. Now that the state is starting to flatten the curve, patients could be allowed to go under the knife again.

The Utah Hospital Association unveiled a “roadmap” for resuming the surgeries based on how many people are being hospitalized for COVID-19.

During an online news conference on Wednesday, doctors said there will not be an official list of accepted and banned procedures because the risk to each patient is different. However, the roadmap is color-coded from Red, meaning high-risk, to Green, which is normal risk, to help hospitals and surgeons make decisions about patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Michael Baumann, the chair of HCA/MountainStar said many patients are suffering.

“We need to remember, pain is a major issue, and pain that persists can be a major problem. And we need to make sure that our patients, as long as it’s safe, aren’t having painful conditions that we’re not treating,” Baumann said.

While hospitals have admitted taking a financial hit because so many elective surgeries have been postponed, those at Wednesday’s news conference insist good medical care is being considered before profit.

Dr. Mark Briesacher with Intermountain Healthcare said patients will be tested for COVID-19 before any procedures. They will also be making sure hospitals have enough personal protective gear and have already been separating COVID-19 patients from others.

Elective surgeries could also be postponed again if the rate of hospitalizations from COVID-19 goes up.

If a patient tests negative for COVID-19, they could have their surgery rescheduled as early as this week.

Dr. Baumann says there has also been an unintended consequence of postponing elective surgeries.

“We’re seeing increased mortality around things like coronary artery disease…because patients are not coming in for fear of, we assume, [COVID-19].