BJC Cancels Elective Surgeries: COVID Cases 'Beyond What We Have Seen'


Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. - GOOGLE MAPS
  • Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.

Overwhelmed by rising COVID-19 cases, BJC HealthCare announced Wednesday that it is postponing all elective surgeries effective January 6.

The hospital system is contending with more than 500 COVID cases, leaving nurses and staff "stretched to their limits" amid a wave of infections that's seen the St. Louis region break case records on back-to-back days.

"This is beyond anything we’ve seen thus far in the pandemic,” a hospital spokesperson said in a press release. “This decision was not made lightly and reflects our current challenge as cases continue to rise and resources continue to be strained.”

The press release noted that patients with procedures scheduled "that are not considered urgent" will be contacted by a staff member about postponing.

The announcement arrives as COVID cases have risen to unprecedented levels. On Tuesday, St. Louis area hospitals reported more than 1,000 cases. The wave is slamming into health systems across Missouri and surrounding states: Dr. Steven M. Brown, who manages more than 100 ICU patients as part of Mercy's Virtual Care Center in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma, tweeted on Monday that he is caring for dozens of seriously ill unvaccinated patients.

"If they are conscious, most are struggling to breathe," he wrote, urging people to be vaccinated before they are infected. "The rest are life support in drug-induced comas."

The numbers aren't just going up in large metro areas like St. Louis and Kansas City. Saint Louis University professor Chris Prener, who tracks and analyzes COVID cases, wrote in a Tuesday update that the "outstate" region is starting to see an increase as well, and that the trend is "higher than it has been at any point since last January."

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at
@D_Towski. E-mail the author at [email protected]
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