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Cape hospitals 'full,' postpone inpatient elective surgeries

Cape Cod Hospital
Alecia Orsini
Cape Cod Hospital

For the second consecutive week, Cape Cod and Falmouth hospitals are doing no inpatient elective surgeries. The hospitals are nearly full, amid the largest surge of COVID-19 cases to date.

Mike Lauf, CEO of Cape Cod Healthcare, which owns the hospitals, said he hopes to bring those surgeries back next week, but right now, they are running at 85 to 90 percent of capacity.

“We're busy,” he said. “We're full. We're managing well. ... We do have some beds today, and that ebbs and flows again.”

Outpatient elective surgeries are going forward as planned.

The health system has 75 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, including eight in critical care, Lauf said. All but one of the critical-care patients are unvaccinated.

Unlike what some hospitals in Massachusetts are reporting, the Cape doesn’t have a large number of patients who test positive for COVID-19 incidentally when they go into the hospital for something else, he said. About 80 percent of COVID-positive patients are sick from COVID.

Lauf said the hospitals continue to face a staffing shortage and are making use of traveling workers and overtime.

He urged the public to get booster shots.

“Just look at our critical care unit, where most of the people in it are unvaccinated, and everyone that's intubated is unvaccinated,” he said. “So it really does lend credibility to the fact that the vaccines work.”

He expressed appreciation for community support, and for the health system’s frontline staff, physicians and board.

“I'm appreciative of how hard people — just work, and I'm saddened by how many people have suffered because of this tragic, tragic pandemic,” he said.

After nearly two years of unrelenting pressure on healthcare workers, one thing the public can do is show a provider they’re appreciated, Lauf said.

“That can go a long way in giving people that necessary boost to get through another day,” he said.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.