As of this morning, the Advocate Aurora system had 1,118 COVID patients with 26 hospitals, with the top two being 162 at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn and 137 at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee. The system’s highest stationary population during the first wave of the virus was 863 on May 6.
The system has moved to bring in travel nurses who it hopes will be available in late November and December to potentially deal with the impact of superspreader events in the community, said Mary Beth Kingston, the system’s chief nursing officer . Advocate Aurora also provides incentives for employees to extend their working hours and employs students, recently retired nurses, and volunteers to perform support roles, including COVID-19 screening, she said.
To ensure bed capacity and staff are available, Advocate Aurora is also reducing elective surgeries and is expected to call for a 50 percent system-wide cut in those surgeries later this week, Bahr said.
Governor JB Pritzker is increasingly emphasizing the increasing number of COVID-related hospital stays, which now exceed the spring level with more than 5,200.
“We are facing very difficult next months,” said Pritzker at his daily COVID briefing today, adding that he fears what is to come. “We can expect much worse if mitigation efforts are not followed up.”
According to Deborah Song, the system’s director of public affairs, Cook County Health has stopped elective surgeries that require inpatient stays to keep beds available and is shifting as many outpatient visits as possible to telemedicine.
“As with other hospitals, our limitations will be related to the availability of staff beds rather than beds,” she said. “There are still strict visitor restrictions and we have more employees who telework.”
At the University of Chicago Medicine, “the two most important resources at this point are ICU capacity and operating room staffing levels, although both are currently sufficient to maintain the services,” said Dr. Jeffrey Matthews, chairman of the department of surgery at UChcago Medicine, in a statement emailed. “In the early stages of the pandemic, the University of Chicago Medicine set a now generally accepted framework for the ethical review of medically necessary, time-sensitive surgical procedures. We use this framework to make decisions about surgeries that are not necessary, although we haven’t had to cancel or postpone cases across the board during the current surge. ”
Rush University Medical Center has not yet stopped elective operations or has had to change personnel procedures.
“In the first wave, we turned everything else off. This time it’s just not a reality. We don’t have to do that,” said Dr. Paul Casey, Rush Chiefs Medical Officer. The hospital is expanding its emergency room into the lobby area of the Brennan Pavilion to cope with increased emergencies, he said.
NorthShore University HealthSystem’s Glenbrook Hospital is recently back to be the system’s COVID-19 hospital for inpatients. The system has also started to postpone some voting operations on a case-by-case basis.
Greg Hinz contributed to this.