GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Prisma Health system has temporarily paused elective inpatient procedures at several facilities to manage the bed capacity needed for the ongoing COVID-19 surge.

Elective inpatient procedures scheduled for Thursday and Friday at Greenville Memorial Hospital have been postponed.

Wednesday, Prisma Health also paused elective surgeries at their community facilities through Friday, Sept. 17. Those hospitals, which include Baptist Easley Hospital, Greer Memorial Hospital, Hillcrest Hospital, Laurens County Memorial Hospital and Oconee Memorial Hospital, will continue to perform emergency and urgent surgeries on a case-by-case basis.

Patewood Hospital as well as outpatient procedures at Prisma Health’s ambulatory surgery centers remain on schedule as of Wednesday afternoon.

Physician offices will reach out to affected patients as required.

The system is taking the step to free up team members to provide needed care for the current COVID-19 inpatient surge.

“We’re dealing with a flood of patients that are incredibly ill and they’re taking a significant, they’re putting significant strains on the resources that all of the facilities,” said Chief Clinical Officer for Prisma Health in the Upstate, Dr. Wendell James.

Systemwide on Tuesday, Prisma Health had 568 people hospitalized with COVID-19, as compared to the earlier peak of 546 patients. As of Wednesday, Sept. 8, the COVID-19 patient census is 566. Currently, 382 patients are hospitalized with COVID in the Upstate and 184 in the Midlands. More than 90 percent of those patients are unvaccinated.

“Unfortunately, the number of COVID-19 patients in our facilities continues to go up at an alarming rate – despite the wide availability of vaccines in our area,” Dr. James said. “We are actively working to ensure that patients who need care receive the care they need when they need it. But given the COVID-19 public health crisis, we must take additional steps to ensure we can manage the projected surge in COVID-19 patients to our hospitals. Given the recent Labor Day celebrations – and now as we go into fall football season – we are deeply concerned that the public is still not taking this pandemic seriously. The COVID Delta variant is much more contagious than the COVID we saw during the first several months of the pandemic. Vaccination is critical to reducing this flood of new cases. We recommend everyone to vaccinate and follow precautions like social distancing, masking and handwashing.”

Prisma Health’s midlands facilities have been deferring select cases for the past two weeks.

“We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause, but we must take these additional steps to care for this large number of extremely sick patients,” said Dr. James.

7 News reached out to other Upstate health systems to see what their plans were.

Bon Secours sent 7 News a statement reading, “Bon Secours has a task force in place that is monitoring the pandemic very closely, working around the clock to ensure we are able to continue providing quality care in a safe environment for all our patients. Because this isn’t the first time we’ve been through a surge, we have the benefit of lessons learned from months already spent dealing with the pandemic while continuing with our day to day operations including elective surgeries. No decision has been made to suspend those procedures at this time, but we are continuing to evaluate the situation and will change course as needed to prioritize the health and safety of both our patients and associates. We will be sure to proactively share any important updates as the situation merits and evolves.”

AnMed also sent 7 News a statement that says, ‘AnMed Health is experiencing high patient volumes like other emergency departments in the state.  The care and safety of our patients are our top priority. We have processes in place to ensure every patient is properly triaged and receives a medical screening exam to determine the appropriate course of treatment. We continue to perform elective procedures at this time, and we frequently evaluate whether an alternative course of action will be warranted in the future. The care and safety of our patients are our top priority.”

Spartanburg Regional added, “Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System has not paused non-essential surgeries completely. In response to the continued surge in COVID-19 patients, Spartanburg Regional further limited surgical procedures on Sept. 5 at most of its hospitals, including Spartanburg Medical Center. Pelham Medical Center is still performing non-emergent surgeries at reduced capacity.”