COVID-19 spike forces elective surgery delays at SIH

By Jason Flynn, Staff Reporter

Editor’s note: This article has been updated as of 3:15 p.m. on Nov. 12 for accuracy. 

Southern Illinois Healthcare will be postponing some elective overnight surgeries because of staffing issues caused by COVID-19, system officials said in a Wednesday press conference. 

According to SIH president and CEO Rex Budde, 118 hospital staff members were out of work due to COVID-19 exposure, and of those, 62 had tested positive for the virus as of Nov. 11.


The surgeries may be delayed for two or more weeks depending on how long the COVID-19 rate continues to spike. 

“We won’t completely shut down surgery. We didn’t shut down surgery in the spring,” Budde said. 

SIH hospitals will still be going forward with outpatient and medically urgent surgeries. 

Earlier in the year, SIH faced supply problems but those have largely been solved by implementing a plan to have three months capacity on all protective equipment. 

The hospitals also have plenty of bed capacity even with the recent surge in positive COVID-19 cases, SIH vice president and chief nursing officer Jennifer Harre said.

SIH officials emphasized the best way to bring down the rate of positive COVID-19 cases is to continue to wear a mask and avoid social situations as much as possible. 

“This is a matter of respect and good health,” Budde said. 


SIH communications coordinator Rosslind Rice said they are primarily seeing spread of the virus among the community, and less from nursing homes or nearby SIU Carbondale. 

“We’re seeing a lot of that community spread in the 25 to 50 year-old age group,” Rice said. 

SIH doesn’t expect to have major financial issues as a result of the surgery delays, though they can’t predict how long the delays will remain in effect, Budde said. 

“In many cases, the surgeries do provide a good revenue stream,” Budde said. “It doesn’t put us in a position where we’re in financial dire straits.” 

SIH officials said they are hoping the region will take a bit more care in following COVID-19 guidelines in order to decrease the surge rates by the holiday season. 

“We can all impact this,” Budde said. “It depends on how we band together.” 


Staff reporter Jason Flynn can be reached at, or on Twitter @dejasonflynn

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