Hospitals juggling holiday COVID-19 spike with every day operations

SALISBURY, Md. – The holiday weekend brought cheer and spirit to many. But, it also brought more than 25,000 new COVID-19 cases to Maryland, according the Maryland Department of Health. Numbers from Christmas Eve to the 26th were triple that compared to the same time frame last year.

With those new cases came more patients needing to be hospitalized. “We’re still moving forward. But, the electives have to slow down. Hospitalizations just rose so quickly, especially in Maryland and Delaware,” said Dr. Chris Snyder at TidalHealth Peninsula Regional in Salisbury. “Just get some advice on where to go and what to do next. The ER is probably the worst place in the world you could be right now because we do have a lot of COVID-19 there.”

TidalHealth Peninsula Regional has put a temporary hold on elective surgeries that require an overnight stay. “Our surgeons work very closely with our operating room staff to determine medical necessities on patients. Fractures and acute injuries are much more of a concern with that because we want to fix them sooner than later,” said Dr. Snyder.

Some elective surgery patients are being redirected to other facilities. “That’s a big change from the beginning of the pandemic, where we just kind of shut everything down. Now, the hospital is working overtime to figure out how they can serve the community, even while taking increased COVID-19 patients,” said Dr. Scott Gelman at Peninsula Orthopaedic Associates.

An increase in elective surgery patients wanting to go under the knife outside of hospital settings means an increase in demand on other facilities. “It’s always a battle making sure that we are able to keep patients local and they’re not having to go out of the area for care,” said Dr. Gelman.

Dr. Gelman says Peninsula Orthopaedic Associates is now averaging about 40 hip and knee replacement surgeries per month. “I joined the practice four months ago and that was to fill a need where patients would not have to wait so long for surgeries. I think we’re able to handle that increased volume very well,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Snyder says TidalHealth is in constant communication with their partners to determine when they might be able to bring elective surgeries back. TidalHealth says they will resume those surgeries as soon as it is safe enough to do so, and enough staff is available. “We got through the holidays. We should be back up to full staff next week. We’re all hands on deck. Everybody’s working,” said Dr. Snyder.

For now, Dr. Snyder adds that the best way to help them keep COVID-19 patient numbers down is to get vaccinated. He says he also encourages those who are eligible to get their COVID-19 booster shots. “We spend a lot of years training on this. 99% of the doctors in our TidalHealth group are vaccinated. If that doesn’t tell you something, I don’t know what does. We believe in science and we treat with science,” said Dr. Snyder.

Categories: Coronavirus, Health, Local News, Maryland