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Williamson Medical Center suspends some elective surgeries as COVID-19 cases surge

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Posted at 9:21 PM, Jul 16, 2020

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — Williamson Medical Center is suspending inpatient elective surgeries as it deals with a growing number of COVID-19 cases and a "critical staffing situation" stemming from the dramatic rise in infections.

Employees of the hospital in Franklin were notified of the decision late Thursday in an email from the hospital's chief medical officer.

"Just like the rest of the state and other Nashville area hospitals, we too are nearing capacity," Dr. Andy Russell wrote.

Russell told employees that the facility currently has 19 coronavirus patients -- "more than twice as many inpatients now as we did in April during our peak in the Spring,"

"The number of employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who have a household member who is positive has increased dramatically and has created a critical staffing situation for us."

"With the number of sick staff members, it is becoming increasingly difficult to provide full coverage."

In a statement Friday, the hospital said the suspension for now only applies to elective inpatient surgeries that would require an overnight stay.

"If patients can be discharged on the same day, those procedures may be completed as scheduled," the statement said. "We are continuing with emergency surgeries as usual."

According to the statement, the hospital is currently at 70% capacity of beds utilized for COVID-19.

"We have adequate isolation space for current patients and transitional plans in place for activation as needed to maximize capacity. In response to increased test demand, at this time we are not providing COVID-19 testing for those who do not have symptoms or meet screening criteria."

Russell said Williamson Medical is working to expand the number of beds available for coronavirus patients. The hospital has an "adequate" amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) "but need to continue to try and conserve as much as possible."

"Similar to other Nashville area facilities, our testing capacity is low and necessary restrictions have been put in place," the chief medical officer added.

"We plan to increase our testing when our supplies are restored.'

As NewsChannel 5 Investigates first reported, the number of patients hospitalized in Tennessee for COVID-19 continues its dramatic rise, now standing at an all-time high of 1,416 patients with confirmed or suspected cases currently in the hospital.

On top of that, NewsChannel 5 revealed, there is a growing concern that hospitals may soon face difficulty having enough doctors and nurses to staff a shrinking number of hospital beds.

RELATED STORY: COVID-19 hospitalizations in Tennessee set new records