UK HealthCare to temporarily close 5 operating rooms, will staffing be an issue?


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ)  UK HealthCare will be closing five of its 32 operating rooms (ORs) at UK Chandler Hospital beginning Monday, Nov. 30 to decrease hospital admissions, increasing capacity for COVID patients.

According to UK HealthCare, the move does not affect the 10 ORs at UK Good Samaritan Hospital or eight ORs in the Center for Advanced Surgery.

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This move also allows additional personnel and resources to be redeployed to other areas that need additional staff. According to UK HealthCare officials, this temporary closure is a proactive decision that allows surgeons, nurses and coordinators time to inform and reschedule patients.

Dr. Mark F. Newman, University of Kentucky Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, says this closure is different from April 2020. Some differences from the previous closures include:

  • Elective procedures will continue,
  • Employees are not being furloughed.
  • Knowledge of how to treat virus is better, from natural course to treatment as well as ample COVID testing and more than adequate PPE.

“We have clear indications for when to scale back versus re-open,” added Newman.

According to UK HealthCare, Kentucky’s positivity rates have increased from 5% to 9% in the month of November. UK HealthCare’s COVID-positive patient numbers continue to grow and during the last week, the total COVID census has increased above 70 patients daily.

If UK HealthCare experiences a surge beyond 90 total COVID patients, additional closures will be considered, according to officials. The current reduction is estimated to last through the month of December and will be evaluated weekly.

“Closing ORs is no easy decision. It impacts our staff, physicians and patients in many expected and sometimes unexpected ways,” Newman said. “However, this is the right decision for the uncertainty that lies ahead.”

The Kentucky Nurses Association CEO Delanor Manson warns beds won’t be an issue, but staffing the beds might be if the virus isn’t controlled.

“Nurses are asking the public for help,” she said.

Starla Snow isn’t at the hospital for coronavirus, but she says she understands why the hospital is closing some ORs.

“I’ve come to realize that COVID’s gonna keep coming and there’s nothing that we can do to stop it, so evolving around is all we can do,” she said.

It’s that kind of understanding Doctor of Nursing, Jitana Benton-Lee an assistant professor at Northern Kentucky University says is key.

“They get inundated with information from a lot of different sources but having that one on one conversation with someone who knows is helpful,” Benton-Lee said.

Manson says when people aren’t follow the protocols or ask her about if masking works she says she often say this:

“And it doesn’t cost you anything to put on a mask. It doesn’t cost you anything to social distance, it costs you nothing to wash your hands. But it might cost someone their life. If you don’t.”

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Monica Harkins joined the ABC 36 News team in June 2019 as a Multimedia journalist and Anchor/Producer. She’s born and raised in Austin, Texas and headed “North,” as she calls it, to study broadcast journalism and business at the University of Missouri. While at Mizzou she anchored and reported for KOMU 8 News, an NBC affiliate in Columbia, Missouri all four years. During her childhood she played almost every sport, but they always called her “Hollywood” for her love of theatre. In high school, she realized her excitement for theatre and performing was only a small piece of the puzzle. It’s story telling that’s her passion. She’s especially passionate about social media and creative platforms to tell stories. Her most recent experiment is being a FAA certified drone pilot. As a proud Texan she says she’s made of country music, Southern hospitality and Sweet Tea. When she’s not at work you can find her trying new recipes, listening to crime podcasts, reading the latest romance novel or rockin’ out to live music with friends. She says she’s only a tweet or Facebook message away, so say hi and send her the latest on your community. @MonicaHarkinstv or