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Non-emergency surgeries resuming at Providence Hospitals

Rebecca White/SPR

Non-emergency surgeries are resuming in Providence Hospitals as the omicron wave fueled surge in hospitalizations dissipates.

Dr. Dan Getz, chief medical officer at Providence Sacred Heart, says the system had to delay over 600 procedures due to the most recent wave, ranging from breast reconstruction surgeries for cancer survivors to spinal surgeries to relieve chronic pain.

“Some of these people have been bumped not just once, but two or three times as we’ve navigated wave after wave after wave,” he said. “It’s really encouraging to be able to finally get back to that, we’re doing a lot to bolster our staffing so we have the team needed to deliver that care in our community.”

He says COVID-19 hospitalizations are declining, but the high number of delayed surgeries means that capacity will likely still be constrained for the next few months.

As Washington prepares to drop its indoor mask mandate, health care leaders are also urging people to get vaccinated, saying it is one of the best ways to preserve capacity in the health care system.

Getz, said Spokane’s vaccination rate is still concerning.

“I really want to encourage those folks that are on the fence with vaccination,” he said. “It’s been over a year that this vaccine’s been out, there’s a lot more data that confirms its safety and it’s certainly much more safe then dealing with a COVID infection. Please, if you haven’t been vaccinated, or if you’re due for your booster, please get that, or if you’re considering having your children vaccinated, please get them vaccinated as well.”

According to Spokane Regional Health District data, 59.5% of Spokane County residents over the age of 5 are fully vaccinated.

Getz says visitors are now allowed in hospital settings, but they will be required to wear masks, regardless of state rules.

Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.