NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — On Friday, Sentara Healthcare announced that they are postponing all hospital-based “non-emergent” surgeries, procedures and diagnostic testing starting Monday, January 10.

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“The current strain on all healthcare facilities is undeniable. We must balance the urgent need to care for large numbers of COVID-19 patients with what is being asked of our dedicated staff,” said Mike Gentry, Sentara Healthcare Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “We cannot care for our community without first supporting our team members as they so expertly manage this large number of patients.”

Officials say patients with an impacted surgery or procedure will be contacted directly with further information. The goal of the changes is to reassign team members to other areas with a more urgent need.

All lifesaving and emergency surgeries and procedures will continue, according to officials.

The announcement comes one day after Sentara reported record high COVID-19 hospitalizations. Data shows that hospitalizations have more than doubled in the past 10 days.

Pediatric providers such as the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters are also issuing similar requests as child COVID hospitalizations hit record numbers nationwide.

On Friday, January 7, Virginia recorded its highest number of daily hospitalizations since the pandemic began, with a statewide COVID-19 hospitalization count of 3,329, surpassing the 2020-21 winter surge. The vast majority of those hospitalized are unvaccinated. Vaccinated people requiring hospitalizations typically have conditions that put them at higher risk such as age or a chronic health problem.

“The best defense against serious illness and hospitalization from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. If you have not gotten vaccinated or boosted and are eligible, please do so now. Do it for yourself, your family, and your community, including the health care workers we depend on to be there when we truly need emergency care,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA.

What to do if your procedure, surgery or diagnostic test is postponed:

  • Patients whose non-emergent surgery, procedure or test has been rescheduled will be contacted directly by their physician or a Sentara care team member.
  • Patients will be given further instructions by their Sentara care team and resources to address any questions.
  • Patients should stay in contact with their physicians and care team and discuss any changes in their health or medical condition.
  • Delayed procedures, surgeries and diagnostic testing will be rescheduled as soon as we are able to do so.

Last week, the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA) issued a joint statement with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), urging people to only use hospital emergency departments for a true medical crisis.

When asked whether they’d suspend any non-essential procedures: Bon Secours, another health care system, gave the following statement:

“Bon Secours is evaluating and prioritizing planned procedures based on resource allocation, which includes staffing levels. We will communicate directly with impacted patients, regarding any changes to the date or location for any procedures. We are taking these extraordinary steps to best serve our patients during this crisis period. The health and safety of our patients and employees remains our priority.”