Surgeries rescheduled at Muncie hospital due to the flu

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MUNCIE, Ind. (Jan. 8, 2015)-- IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital canceled a handful of elective surgeries Tuesday due to a high number of patients with the flu or flu-like symptoms.

Jeff Bird, chief operating officer and chief medical officer at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital, said they noticed a higher number of people going to the hospital with the flu or flu-like symptoms for about four weeks.

“The number of true test positive influenza patients that we have is about three times the number for this time of year that we usually do and -as importantly as that- we’ve got a lot of other patients with flu-like illnesses that are also taking up a tremendous amount of our medical med space and they’re very, very sick too,” Bird said.

The increase of patients has limited the amount of space available at the hospital. Hospital staff were also concerned about mixing patients, who were not at the hospital for the same treatment or illness.

Bird said their administrative team, which meets three times a day, discusses whether the safety of patients is being compromised at the hospital. Because there are more patients with the flu or flu-like symptoms, they decided to cancel some elective surgeries on Tuesday. Those surgeries were rescheduled.

“We wanted to make sure that anything we did, we were going to be able to do to the very best of our ability,” Bird said.

Bird said their patients are always their top priority. He said there is a possibility they could cancel elective surgeries in the future, if this continues. As of right now, business continues as usual at the hospital.

Bird said this is not the first time they had to reschedule elective surgeries. They had to do it a few years ago.

“We’re not at the position -at least right now- that we’re going to have to look at elective surgeries, but it’s a very fluid situation and we look at it three times a day and our surgeons are all on board with understanding why we would need to make that decision and (they) will be a part of that decision,” Bird said.

IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital has had visitor restrictions in place, since mid-December to try to help keep the flu out of the hospital.

“By limiting the number of people in the hospital, it limits the chance that we’re going to spread it,” Chief Nursing Officer, Carla Cox, said.

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