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‘Significant increase in unvaccinated patients’: Cleveland hospitals postponing some non-urgent surgeries as COVID infections rise

Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth and University Hospitals are all voluntarily making adjustments to the scheduling of non-urgent surgeries at some locations.

CLEVELAND — Editor's note: Video at the top of this story was originally published on Dec. 2, 2021.

As new COVID infections continue to rise throughout Ohio, hospitalizations are also climbing in Cleveland.

“As we continue to navigate the pandemic and adjust to the changing healthcare needs of our patients, our health systems are seeing unprecedented demand for inpatient care across our facilities,” according to a joint statement from the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and MetroHealth. “This has led to our hospitals reaching nearly full capacity at many locations. Our organizations are experiencing a significant increase in unvaccinated patients being hospitalized because of COVID-19.”

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All three hospital systems are reporting an increase in COVID patients with University Hospitals says they’ve reached a “record high census of hospitalized COVID-19 patients.”

As a result, Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth and University Hospitals are all voluntarily making adjustments to the scheduling of non-urgent surgeries at certain locations.

“Patient and caregiver safety remain our highest priority,” their statement declared. “This action frees resources for patients with immediate and life-threatening needs and manages the demands on frontline caregivers, who have served with distinction throughout the pandemic. We remain available to provide care to patients experiencing an emergency, life-threatening illness or prescribed screening or testing as well as providing outpatient surgeries that do not require a hospital bed.”

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Here are the changes you can expect…


Cleveland Clinic will temporarily halt the scheduling of additional non-urgent inpatient surgeries requiring a hospital bed in our Ohio locations, with the exception of Euclid and Lutheran Hospitals, beginning Monday, Dec. 6, 2021 through Monday, Jan. 3, 2022. Essential and urgent surgeries, as well as heart, cancer, pediatric and transplantation surgeries, and outpatient surgeries not requiring a hospital bed will continue to be scheduled during this time period. We will continue to evaluate our scheduled surgical patients as the pandemic continues.


In response to high demand for inpatient care – involving both COVID and non-COVID cases – we have begun postponing some elective surgeries to free up space in our hospitals. We are also exercising other options, such as encouraging more use of our Hospital in the Home program, to meet the latest patient surge.


University Hospitals is currently rescheduling certain non-urgent surgeries at UH Cleveland Medical Center that require an inpatient stay for a short duration of time. At this time, UH Cleveland Medical Center continues to perform urgent surgeries and outpatient surgeries and procedures that do not involve an overnight stay. University Hospitals continues to perform all types of surgeries and procedures at its community hospitals, although the situation is fluid and subject to change. University Hospitals’ physicians are seeing patients as they always have, and UH labs and testing centers are open.

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The joint statement, which was released shortly before 9 a.m. Friday, also urges all eligible people to get vaccinated.

“More than 90% of patients with COVID-19 in the ICU are non-vaccinated,” the statement said. “This means that vaccination is protecting people from severe illness. The majority of vaccinated patients who are hospitalized have underlying health conditions.”

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