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Stories, Stats, Impacts: Wyoming Public Media is here to keep you current on the news surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Rock Springs Hospital Cancels Elective Surgeries So Nurses Can Help With Influx Of COVID-19 Patients

Hospital room with four beds along the wall with medical equipment
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Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County has canceled all elective surgeries. This comes as the hospital deals with an influx of COVID-19 patients.

Kim White, the hospital's emergency service director and incident commander, said they need the nurses that would work on those surgeries supporting critical patients.

"The ER has been so inundated with COVID, that they're helping down there as well. So they are taking care of more critical patients right now. And that's what's taken away their ability, you know, our ability to help with elective surgeries," said White.

Sweetwater Memorial has been dealing with a staff shortage. So part of the problem is that these critical COVID-19 patients need more monitoring and care and the hospital has nowhere else besides the surgical nurses to turn to.

"These patients are on high amounts of oxygen, they're on BiPAP machines, which have them breathe in there, you know, some of them are having to be intubated. And so it requires more time, more treatments, and things like that," said White.

Surrounding hospitals are full as well so White said they are unable to transfer patients. They even have hospitals all the way in Texas calling to see if they have space for patients.

This past weekend, their Intensive Care Unit was full but now some spots have opened up. White said if they have more ICU patients than beds, they plan to move patients to the same-day surgery area which has the proper equipment.

Most admitted COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated. Elective surgeries will start again when there is a more manageable number of patients in the ICU.

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