ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Many elective surgeries will be postponed at BJC HealthCare and SSM Health hospital locations starting Thursday, January 6 until further notice.

The BJC hospital system says that the difficult decision was reached after the number of people in the hospital for COVID-19 went beyond anything they have encountered during the pandemic. This will allow them to reassign staff to areas of the hospital with more urgent needs.

SSM Health hospitals said that their resources are stretched to meet the extraordinary COVID patient volume. They said that in some situations, hospitals are being forced to reschedule elective procedures on a case-by-case basis.

“This decision was not made lightly, and reflects our current challenge as cases continue to rise and resources continue to be strained,” a BJC HealthCare representative states.

“Now with COVID-19 related hospitalizations rapidly increasing, plus a number of our own team members unavailable due to COVID-19, we are having to take measures to ensure we’re able to provide exceptional care to meet this critical need,” writes Jeremy Fotheringham, SSM Health St. Louis Regional President.

The number of patients hospitalized with COVID 19 in BJC locations was over 500 Tuesday. There are more than a thousand people in area hospitals with COVID. The surge has many asking how many hospitalizations could be possible if the spread of the omicron variant is not curbed in the region.

“I think ‘unprecedented’ is a good word and, again, it very much mirrors what’s happening in the adult hospitals around the region,” said Dr. Marya Strand, chief medical officer at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.

Patients who have scheduled procedures, and whose procedures are not considered urgent, will be contacted by hospital staff about postponing.