Kaiser Permanente officials announced on Sunday that, starting March 16, its hospitals are postponing all elective medical procedures in order to maintain beds, supplies and staffing for an influx of COVID-19 patients.
"The health and safety of our members, patients, employees and communities remains our priority," Kaiser spokeswoman Debbie Karman said in a statement. "As the COVID-19 situation rapidly advances, the demands on the health care system threaten to exhaust our supplies, equipment, and our people."
The decision, which the The Oregonian first reported Sunday, applies to Kaiser's hospitals in Oregon and Southwest Washington, Karman said in a statement. The hospital will contact patients whose surgeries need postponement.
In addition, Kaiser's dental office will postpone all non-urgent procedures beginning March 16.
This follows new guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Surgeons, which both recommended halting non-urgent procedures to maintain hospital resources.
In Seattle, where COVID-19 is the most rampant in the nation, numerous hospitals stopped elective surgeries last week, the Seattle Times reported.
Karman said the hospital is expanding its use of telemedicine services, such as video and phone consultations, when appropriate.
"We understand that this is an inconvenience," Karman said, "but for Kaiser Permanente and other health care providers this is a necessary step to slow the spread of COVID-19 and ensure that we continue to have the resources, capacity, and staff available to care for our members and the communities we serve."