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Halting Elective Procedures

On March 14, 2020, Gov. Andy Beshear recommended that Kentucky hospitals stop performing elective procedures at close of business Wednesday, March 18, to help curb the spread of COVID-19, the new coronavirus.

Dr. Mark Newman, UK HealthCare’s executive vice president for health affairs, worked closely with Gov. Beshear, the Kentucky Hospital Association and our own leadership teams to respond to this directive.

Taking this dramatic step is necessary to preserve the personal protective equipment (PPE) that protects our healthcare workers and patients. This action also enables us to create capacity within our hospitals in preparation for the expected increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. Additionally, it preserves access to equipment, such as ventilators, necessary for the most seriously ill COVID-19 patients.

All Kentucky hospitals, including UK HealthCare, are implementing systems to work with patients to delay procedures that in the physician’s judgment will not cause harm to a patient, delay diagnosis or negatively impact the patient’s life expectancy.

UK HealthCare began a tiered alert system on March 19. Our intention is to balance available resources against elective procedures that utilize those resources.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is an elective procedure?

    “Elective” refers to a procedure that is scheduled in advance rather than performed as a response to a medical emergency.

  • Who canceled my procedure?

    The U.S. Surgeon General and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear have called for the cancellation of elective procedures. We at UK HealthCare based our decision on their recommendations to ensure that our hospital has adequate capacity and available equipment in the event of a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases.

  • Why is canceling necessary?

    Reducing elective procedures preserves the personal protective equipment (PPE) that protects our healthcare workers and patients. It allows us to keep hospital space open in preparation for the expected increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. It also preserves access to equipment such as ventilators, necessary for the most seriously ill COVID-19 patients.

  • Are procedures automatically canceled?

    No. We have a team of surgeons with varied expertise reviewing cases. No decision is being made lightly or automatically. The team will come together daily, and sometimes more often, to assess real-time data and make decisions.

  • What if I feel my procedure is necessary?

    While this can be a frustrating situation, UK HealthCare did not make this decision lightly. The recommendation to cancel elective procedures was made because we have the responsibility to protect the health of our patients, families and employees. If at the time of cancellation you have concerns, a representative can take your contact information and send it to the team of surgeons reviewing surgical cases.

  • What is a tiered alert system?

    Why is UK HealthCare taking this step?

    A tiered alert system provides guidelines to review all scheduled surgeries. The tiers focus on our continued need to take care of our patients and to handle urgent and emergent cases that cannot wait extended periods without causing harm.

    This plan provides us the flexibility to move between tiers if that need arises, as well as to take the needs of COVID-19 patients into consideration. This process – drawn from best practices around the world – is a dynamic, daily assessment meant to protect our patients and healthcare workers during this unprecedented public health event.