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Local Hospitals Balance Surgeries, Staffing and COVID

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WHEELING — WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital has been forced to reschedule some of its elective surgeries due to issues with staffing.

“Some elective surgeries are being rescheduled as we experience the same staffing issues faced by hospitals nationwide. However, emergency surgeries continued uninterrupted,” said Kareen Simon, WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital vice president and chief operating officer.

Meanwhile, the hospital is prepared to take on additional COVID-19 patients with the anticipated peak of omicron variant.

State health officials said this week that they anticipate omicron cases to peak in about two weeks, with increased hospitalizations and deaths to follow.

Wheeling Hospital is prepared for a possible surge in cases.

“We’re dealing with the uptick in cases on a day-by-day basis, and do not foresee running out of beds,” Simon said.

At WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial, Chief Operating Officer Tony Martinelli said the facility also has had to delay some surgeries, but not cancel them.

“We monitor daily the capacity of our hospital in order to make sure that we are able to continue to provide the highest level of care to our patients,” Martinelli said. “We have seen limited elective procedures delayed, but not canceled. Our staff continues to rise to the occasion as we enter the third year of this pandemic. We cannot thank them enough for their dedication.”

Martinelli said the delays in surgeries can happen for a variety of reasons.

“If our capacity meetings determine that we need to move staff or resources to care for patients whose care cannot be delayed, we may need to postpone elective procedures to ensure we have appropriate staff and resources to care for those patients,” he said.

Regarding preparing for a possible omicron surge, Dr. Jamie Evick, vice president of Medical Affairs, WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital, said both Reynolds and Wheeling Hospital have formed a “true partnership to provide the highest level of care for our patients.”

“There are daily, fluent discussions among all levels of the hospitals to continually evaluate and respond to needs of the hospitals, such as bed capacity, staffing, materials, and supplies,” Evick said.

“We, as a team, have been preparing and continue to prepare to be flexible, to adapt, to staff, and to care for patients as surges have occurred and continue to occur,” she added. “As we enter our third year of this pandemic, we thank all of our employees for their dedication and commitment to our community and patients.”

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