UAB announces delays in nonemergent surgeries due to rising COVID hospitalizations

University Hospital exterior at night, 2004.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – University of Alabama in Birmingham Hospital is reducing in-patient surgical procedures due to the rising COVID demand within the hospital. With more patients admitted each day, hospital administration has made the difficult decision to begin admitting only 400 in-patient procedures per month, or 20 in-patient procedures per day to keep up with the influx of COVID-19 patients. 

UAB has not delayed any cancer-based surgeries, but will be delaying nonemergent procedures, or procedures that can be done at a later date. 

“Starting next week, we are only going to be able to do a little over half of the normal surgical cases that we normally do because we do not have enough health care resources available,” said UAB Vice President of Clinical Services Dr. Sarah Nafziger.   

Alabama Hospital Association President Dr. Don Williamson told the Alabama Political Reporter on August 9 that 2,134 COVID-19 patients have been admitted statewide, which was a 122% increase from two weeks prior to that and of those, 628 were ICU beds.  

“Surgeries for heart disease, surgeries for cancer, transplants, a lot of those are the type of things we are delaying. I hope that we never get to the point where we don’t have emergency services available, but we’re tip-toeing closer and closer to that line,” said Dr. Nafziger. 

“For me, hearing that it is certainly alarming and I’m sure for someone who is receiving that diagnosis or hearing that news that their surgery is being postponed, that’s really stressful,” shared Claire Gray, with Forge Breast Cancer Survivor Center. 

Gray and her team provide resources to people affected by breast cancer. They work directly with cancer patients at UAB, Grandview Health, St. Vincent’s and Brookwood Baptist Health hospitals. 

Another change occurring at UAB Hospital on Monday will be visiting hours. Each patient will be allowed one visitor every 12 hours to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

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