2 Solano County hospitals to postpone elective procedures as California enforces new visitation policy

As California steps up requirements that visitors to health care facilities be vaccinated or show a negative COVID-19 test, two North Bay hospitals prepare to respond to surging virus cases by postponing elective surgeries.

Fairfield-based NorthBay Healthcare said Wednesday it will suspend elective surgeries in a matter of days at its two Solano County hospitals: NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield and NorthBay VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville.

“Without available beds, the decision was reluctantly made to postpone elective procedures that would likely require an inpatient admission,” said Steve Huddleston, vice president, public affairs at NorthBay Healthcare. “The pause begins on Monday, Aug. 16, and continues through at least Sunday, Aug. 29.”

Both hospitals have been at capacity — meaning all beds, not only ICU beds — for more than a week, with the surge of COVID-19-positive patients continuing to hover around 50 individuals, he said. About one-third of those patients are in critical condition in the ICU at NorthBay Medical Center.

“This impacts patient care and creates rescheduling challenges, so we are monitoring surge metrics hourly in hopes of avoiding extending this any longer than necessary,” noted Dr. Seth Kaufman, chief medical officer. “Of course, urgent and emergency cases, as well as outpatient procedures, will continue.”

Nonemergent surgeries at other North Bay hospitals so far are running a mix of some postponements or none to date, according to representatives.

Meanwhile, new visitor regulations put in place by the California Department of Public Health took effect Wednesday.

The CDPH mandate requires hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and intermediate care facilities throughout the state to verify that all visitors are fully vaccinated or be able to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the previous 72 hours.

The policy does not apply to visitors seeking only outdoor visits, and there’s an exception for visitors wanting to see a patient in critical condition when death may be imminent, according to the CPDH’s order.

All visitors must continue to wear a mask and physically distance inside health care facilities, and wear any other personal protective equipment while in the patient's room that health care personnel deem appropriate to the situation, according to the CPDH.

“As we respond to the dramatic increase in (COVID-19) cases, transmission prevention measures must be increased for the protection of the patients in (these) facilities,” Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, director and state public health officer for the CDPH, said in an Aug. 5 announcement. “This can be done by reducing the risk that visitors to these facilities are bringing COVID-19 from the community and introducing it into these settings.”

The vaccination and testing policy is temporary and will be lifted when appropriate, according to CDPH.

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