Media Contacts

Kathy Wilets

Director, Media Relations, University of Utah Health
Phone: 801-581-5717

Apr 29, 2020 10:00 AM

Salt Lake City, April 22, 2020 — University of Utah Health will resume elective surgeries following a pause in services because of the coronavirus epidemic.

Earlier in March, U of U Health announced a deferral in surgical services to help preserve critical resources including personal protective equipment (PPE), respirators and staffing in anticipation of a surge on COVID-19 cases.

The plan to resume elective surgeries comes as COVID-19 cases in Utah appear stable and efforts to conserve and acquire PPE have been more successful than expected.

“We have been incredibly fortunate to have the benefit of time in our community before a surge in COVID-19 cases.” says Thomas Miller, M.D., chief medical officer for U of U Health.

“Our social distancing efforts are helping to flatten the curve and having more time to prepare has allowed us to conserve, create and acquire PPE. We now believe that with continued efforts, we will have adequate supplies to see us through the surge and still allow us to care for our non-COVID-19 patients,” Miller says. 

New guidelines for resuming surgical services were developed in cooperation with clinical leaders from Utah’s four major health systems. Additionally, guidelines were informed by the American College of Surgeons, the American College of Anesthesiologists, the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses and the American Hospital Association.

“We have always, and will always, be open for business. For us this means providing the best and most timely care we can, given the challenges of the pandemic,” says Sam Finlayson, M.D., chief of the Department of Surgery at U of U Health. “We want patients with health concerns to contact us, make appointments by teleconference if possible and in-person when necessary. When an operation is needed, we will offer service that is appropriate for the patient’s health condition and are committed to taking care of our patients in a prompt way and in a safe environment.” 

Patients who had services canceled in March will be contacted by their provider to reschedule procedures. Other patients with surgical needs should contact their provider to discuss options.  

“We will begin to operate and perform procedures giving the highest priority to conditions that are more pressing or acute, keeping a close eye on our supplies and critical resources,” says Finlayson. “Older or more vulnerable patients without urgent or time-sensitive needs will still be asked to postpone surgeries until the risk of COVID-19 is lower in the community.”