Coronavirus: Postponing Elective Surgeries

At UW Medicine, we are facing an unprecedented need to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, we are postponing elective and non-urgent surgeries and procedures.

This covers all UW Medicine healthcare facilities.

It will take effect Monday, March 16, for:

  • Harborview Medical Center
  • University of Washington Medical Center – Montlake
  • University of Washington Medical Center – Northwest (formerly Northwest Hospital & Medical Center)

It will take effect at Valley Medical Center on Wednesday, March 18.

All outpatient and ambulatory procedure centers are affected. They also will be postponing procedures that are deemed to be elective in nature.

Clinic appointments

It is still safe for patients to receive care with our primary and urgent care clinics, and we encourage you to do so as needed.

We also are shifting as many appointments as possible to telehealth for patients in our UW Neighborhood Clinics. This reduces exposure to our patients and our care teams. Some non-urgent specialty visits and procedures may be delayed until the outbreak has subsided.

Frequently asked questions

UW Medicine faces a rapidly increasing need to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are seeing a significant increase in COVID-19 patients at our hospitals. That places increasing pressure on our staff and demand on our supplies of personal protective equipment. This includes gowns, masks and/or face shields. With new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, specific to Seattle-King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, UW leadership decided on the postponement.

The decision is up to each patient's doctor, based on two main factors. The first factor is that a surgery or procedure is elective and non-urgent. This means it can be rescheduled without significantly impacting the patient's health outcome. The second is whether the surgery or procedure requires the use of personal protective equipment such as gowns, masks and/or face shields. If a procedure involves both factors, it is eligible to be postponed.

Emergent and urgent surgeries or procedures will continue to be performed. These are surgeries that should be done right away or within a four-week time period. Otherwise, delaying any further may negatively affect the patient's health outcome or harm the patient.

UW Medicine hospitals are reaching out to patients whose surgeries are being postponed. Any patient with questions should call his or her doctor.