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The International Medical Corps field unit put up a second tent in front of Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley July 28.

Hospitals in Kern County, including Adventist Health hospitals and Mercy Hospitals, announced that they were temporarily suspending or limiting the number of elective procedures in response to a surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the county.

Adventist Health announced Tuesday that it would be suspending all elective procedures at its locations in Kern County until the end of January due to a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations. In Kern County, Adventist Health has locations in Tehachapi, Bakersfield and Delano.

The statement said that the decision was made with "an understanding of hospital and community limitations" such as available beds, staff, equipment, supplies and community safety. According to a statement, the hospital system will reassess whether elective surgeries can be resumed at the end of January.

Postponing elective surgeries does not apply to all surgeries.

"This action does not pertain to emergent or urgent surgeries," said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ronald Reynoso. "This also does not include cases related to the diagnoses or treatment of cancer, surgery in patients who are highly symptomatic or progressive in their disease condition."

Mercy Hospital Downtown and Southwest in Bakersfield also announced that it would temporarily suspend elective procedures, according to Dignity Health spokesperson Michelle Willow. This decision will not apply to Bakersfield Memorial Hospital. The decision to resume elective procedures is being evaluated daily, Willow wrote in an email.

She wrote the decision was made to "ensure we are providing the safest and best care possible to all of our patients, including our COVID-19 patients."

The decision of whether to go forward with an elective surgery or cancel is being made on an "hourly basis" at Ridgecrest Regional Hospital, according to CEO James Suver.

"That being said, it is important to realize that even some elective cases done in a hospital are urgent for patient safety and their well-being," he wrote, in an email. "We believe that urgent cases even if elective still need to be performed."

Health administrators with the hospital systems encourage those who need urgent health care to not delay their care. Those experiencing the signs of a heart attack, stroke or other serious medical issues are encouraged to seek swift medical care.

There are 388 patients with COVID in Kern County hospitals, a 13 percent increase from the week before and 134 percent increase from last month, according to state data. Of those, 80 are in intensive care units, an 11 percent increase from last week and 116 percent increase from last month.

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