Our nurses, doctors, technologists, and other frontline healthcare workers are exhausted after 22 months of battling this pandemic. Many healthcare workers have left the profession, tired of fighting both the disease and willful misinformation. The result is that Lifespan, like many other health systems, is experiencing unprecedented, crisis-level staffing shortages.

We have taken a number of steps to stretch our scarce resources, particularly in the ICUs and emergency departments, including expanding nurse to patient ratios, placing ICU patients in non-traditional ICUs, converting intermediate care units into ICUs, and more. 

Regrettably, despite these efforts, we simply do not have the staff or the beds available to care for all the patients who need our help. 

Given these continued, severe staffing shortages and the further projected surge in COVID patients, we have made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend all non-essential surgical procedures at Rhode Island Hospital, to free up inpatient beds for those who most need them. This includes outpatient and same-day surgeries, in the interest of preserving materials and staffing resources. Effective Monday, January 3, The Miriam and Newport hospitals will also be suspending most non-essential surgical procedures. 

We ask all our patients, families and members of the community for their understanding as we work closely with the Rhode Island Department of Health and state government on finding solutions to this crisis. We will be evaluating our capacity and patient needs on a daily basis, so that we can return to providing a full range of surgical services as soon as possible.

We also appeal to you, our fellow Rhode Islanders, to do your part in fighting this pandemic. Get vaccinated. Get a booster dose as soon as you are eligible. Respect mask mandates and wear a mask in public indoor spaces. Avoid crowds. Get tested to avoid spreading the virus. 

Compared to the sacrifices our frontline healthcare workers are making every day, it’s a small price to pay for the safety of your loved ones and your community.

Thank you for trusting us with your care.

Sincerely, 

Timothy J. Babineau, MD 
President and CEO, Lifespan