Elliot Hospital

Elliot Hospital in Manchester.

Staff shortages are pushing Manchester’s Elliot Hospital to cap the number of “elective procedures” each day.

The hospital is performing at most nine elective procedures, the non-emergency procedures that can be scheduled ahead of time, each day, said Dawn Fernald, a spokeswoman for Elliot Hospital’s parent company SolutionHealth.

The hospital is short-staffed because staff who have been exposed to the coronavirus must quarantine at home. With the number of infected people in Manchester growing — there were 768 active cases in the city as of Nov. 30, according to city health department data — the risk of exposure is growing.

“It’s hitting our staff as well as community members,” Fernald said.

Fernald said just a tiny proportion of hospital staff are quarantining, but it’s enough to disrupt the hospital’s operations.

With limits on the number of elective procedures the hospital can accommodate each day, some patients’ surgeries and other procedures have been postponed, Fernald said.

Hospitals across the state postponed elective procedures during the first wave of the virus, in the spring and early summer. These procedures and surgeries are money-makers for hospitals: the earlier postponements were a major part of what caused New Hampshire’s hospitals to lose hundreds of millions of dollars this year, by the New Hampshire Hospital Association’s estimates.

Southern New Hampshire Medical Center in Nashua, which is also owned by SolutionHealth, has not had to limit elective procedures again, Fernald said.

The state’s largest hospital, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, has not yet had to limit elective procedures yet.

“Given that our COVID-19 numbers are low at the movement we are currently not limiting planned surgeries or procedures at this time,” said Dartmouth-Hitchcock spokeswoman Audra Burns, explaining that as more people are admitted for COVID-19, other kinds of hospital admissions will be decreased. “We are watching the regional numbers closely and are poised to adjust as needed,” Burns said.

Catholic Medical Center, Manchester’s other hospital, has not had to limit elective procedures either, said spokeswoman Lauren Collins-Cline. She said she hoped Catholic Medical Center would not be forced to limit elective procedures or suspend them again.

“The most important thing right now is that hospital employees stay safe when not at work.”