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Some Jacksonville-area doctors postponing elective surgeries amid COVID spike

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The spike in COVID infections and hospitalizations in Jacksonville has led many doctors to postpone surgeries and other medical procedures on their patients.

Due to the surge, some operating rooms, equipment and medical staff are being used to accommodate hundreds of people that have been hospitalized, many of whom haven’t been vaccinated.

Dr. Michael Koren, the director of the Jacksonville Center for Clinical Research, is a cardiologist who has had to postpone some of his medical procedures.

“Some of the hospitals have already given guidance to delay elected procedures. Some have actually required delaying elected procedures,” Koren said.

He said he’s noticed more patients are nervous about having an elected procedure done due to fear of contracting COVID inside a hospital, which is also leading to patients asking to delay an operation.

“Quite frankly, if a patient of mine asked me that, I would have to say that’s not a bad idea if your procedure is not absolutely emergent,” Koren said.

At First Coast Vascular Center, Koren and the other doctors he works with have patients who may need to undergo procedures such as having a stent put into an artery or open-heart surgery. Depending on the condition of the patient, those medical procedures can only be held off for so long.

“It’s a patient-by-patient judgment call,” Koren said. “But it creates a stress for the providers involved, the physicians and also the patients.

Patients requiring an emergency operation to save their life are the first priority. But Koren said that priority can be a little difficult if the patient is unvaccinated and infected with COVID.

“You do a surgery on a patient with COVID, then you have to clean the operating room in a much more extensive way than you would otherwise,” Koren said. “It’s more costly for the hospitals, it’s more intricate in terms of the scheduling and delays for other people and it creates a tremendous amount of stress across the system.”

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