UW Medicine to reschedule some procedures; hospitals agree to share surge

Responding to a surge in COVID-19 caseloads, UW Medicine has decided to postpone surgeries that are not urgent but would require hospitalization afterward, according to an internal email and confirmed by a spokesperson. 

UW Medicine’s action comes as Washington state’s hospitals earlier this week reached an agreement on how to handle the ongoing rise of COVID-19 patients statewide — committing to one another that “no hospital will go into crisis standards alone.” 

Crisis standards are when hospitals are so overwhelmed they cannot provide the typical standard of care, and they are left to triage resources and decide who will receive treatment and who will be left to die. 

The hospitals’ commitment — which expand on agreements reached before the first surge of COVID-19 in spring — says all of the state’s acute care hospitals will make “concrete plans” to scale back on elective procedures as needed, reserve intensive care units for COVID-19 or emergency cases, and readily accept patient transfers from other parts of the state.

It aims to ensure hospitals will work closely with one another and communicate to prevent individual facilities from becoming overwhelmed when others have capacity.  

“It’s essentially to try to manage — all across the system — the capacity,” said Cassie Sauer, of the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA), which convened a videoconference Monday for the state’s hospital leaders. “In the places that have gone to crisis standards, those doctors and nurses, I’m not sure their soul will ever be the same.” 

Sauer said hospitals hope to create more slack in the system by collaborating closely together and establishing clear communication. Hospitals must document if they deny the transfer of a patient and inform their chief executive officer if a transfer is denied. 

Statewide, as of 4 p.m. Friday, 78% of acute care beds were occupied, according to WSHA. Nearly 84% of intensive care unit (ICU) beds and almost 75% of the ICU beds in airborne infection isolation rooms were in use — numbers higher than two weeks ago.

Sauer said many Washington hospitals, including UW Medicine and Swedish, are beginning to more aggressively scale back on elective procedures.  

“All non-urgent patients who need to occupy a bed [post-operation] for any length of time will be rescheduled,” wrote UW Medical Center CEO Cindy Hecker and Harborview Medical Center CEO Paul Hayes in a message to colleagues Nov. 19. The rescheduling will begin Nov. 23 and continue through Feb. 1, according to the message.  

Procedures for outpatients and in urgent or emergent cases will continue, Hecker and Hayes wrote. 

UW Medicine spokesperson Susan Gregg said the hospital system is “actively contacting” patients whose surgeries will be postponed. 

“Each individual case is being reviewed based on medical urgency and whether the patient would need to be hospitalized after the surgery,” Gregg said in a statement Friday.  

UW Medicine was caring for 77 COVID-19 patients across its campuses as of Thursday. On Oct. 1, the hospital system was caring for 20.  

Dr. Elizabeth Wako, chief medical officer at

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How to Care For Your Teeth If You’ve Had to Reschedule Your Cleaning

a woman brushing her teeth: How to Care For Your Teeth If You've Had to Reschedule Your Cleaning

© Getty Images / PeopleImages
How to Care For Your Teeth If You’ve Had to Reschedule Your Cleaning

a woman brushing her teeth: How to Care For Your Teeth If You've Had to Reschedule Your Cleaning

© Getty Images
How to Care For Your Teeth If You’ve Had to Reschedule Your Cleaning

This spring, my routine dental cleaning was cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic. It was a necessary and recommended appointment change, but it did leave me wondering if I should be caring for my teeth any differently in order to prevent cavities before my rescheduled appointment.

After all, I’ve also had to push appointments in the past due to calendar conflicts, and I actually ended up with some sensitivity and a cavity by the time I got into the dentist’s chair. It wasn’t great.

According to Sophya Morghem, DMD, MS, a general dentist at Sunset Dentistry in San Francisco, a few changes should be made in order to keep your gums and teeth healthy before meeting with your dentist.

First, if you’re hesitant to go to the dentist due to health and safety concerns, Dr. Morghem recommends patients ask all the questions needed in order to feel safe coming into the office. You’ll also want to follow any personalized advice and health protocols recommended by your doctor and/or dentist.

However, if you do need to reschedule (or have already rescheduled), you might need to amp up your brushing and flossing routines. For example, Dr. Morghem recommends brushing after each meal.

Flossing is nonnegotiable, too. “The best time to floss is before bed, or after the last meal of the day,” Dr. Morghem told POPSUGAR. And you’ll want to pay attention to the type of floss you’re using, too.

“You’ll want to use a thick woven floss that will act like a loofa, cleaning the sides of the teeth as you go,” Dr. Morghem said. “If you are prone to getting food stuck between your teeth after meals, you should consider flossing after meals as well.”

This might be the time to reevaluate what type of toothbrush you’re using as well. Dr. Morghem recommends a small electric toothbrush with a small toothbrush head. “This will make your tooth brushing at home more efficient and clean off more plaque. It also helps to compensate for poor brushing habits.”

Gallery: Here’s What Happens When You Only Brush Your Teeth Once a Day (Best Life)

A water flosser isn’t an essential, but Dr. Morghem said that if you have dental restorations, you might want to consider investing in the tool. However, she made it clear that using a water flosser doesn’t take the place of traditional floss.

“While the water flosser can help eliminate large debris, the traditional floss is still the gold standard for removing plaque that is attached to the tooth surface.”

For mouthwash, Dr. Morghem recommends an alcohol-free version so it won’t disrupt oral flora. “Remember there are good and bad bacteria in your mouth – you want to maintain a healthy balance.”

It might also be a good idea to just be mindful of foods

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