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St. Luke's says it has more than 7,000 surgeries on hold

Through crisis standards of care, hospitals put a priority on emergency procedures. Many who need other types of surgeries continue to wait.

BOISE, Idaho — St. Luke's is ramping up operations to perform the more than 7,000 surgeries and other inpatient procedures that were previously delayed during crisis standards of care, according to Chief Physician Dr. Jim Souza.

But making up the lost ground is no small task. Souza said St. Luke's performs roughly 50,000 annual surgeries systemwide.

"Working through that is going to be a logistical challenge that's going to play forward into our near-term future," Souza said. "It would take us about six months to work through the backlog."

Souza clarified this six-month timeline is dependent on sufficient staffing working extra hours and weekends.

For the many people waiting for their procedure, every second counts.

Karen Jambura has lived with daily pain since July. She says an MRI in August revealed she needs back surgery, but due to St. Luke's overflowing with COVID patients, she's had to wait.

"I have a hard time wrapping my brain around not getting vaccinated," Jambura said. "I am very outraged."

Jambura said her pain can be extreme. She uses medication to tame her symptoms. At the worst times, she said, getting out of bed is a hurdle.

Despite knowing she needs this surgery for month, Jambura hasn't even spoken with her surgeon yet.

"I have to wait my turn. But ya know, what do you do?" Jambura said.

St. Luke's announced Monday they will be performing joint, spine and cancer procedures, which makes Jambura feel hopeful. However, she can only wait to see where she falls on the six-month wait list.

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