Governor of Massachusetts: Some hospitals must postpone unnecessary procedures

According to the emergency order announced by Governor Charlie Baker on Tuesday, any Massachusetts hospital or hospital system facing limited nursing capacity will be required to reduce non-essential, non-emergency scheduled procedures starting Monday.

The goal of the order is to protect patients and healthcare workers — and ensure the ability to meet immediate medical needs — to meet the series of challenges that put pressure on hospitals in the state.

The guidelines were developed by the government and the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, and are based on several factors, including what officials say is the severe staff shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The shortage of personnel resulted in the loss of approximately 500 medical/surgical and ICU beds across the state. Other factors that put pressure on hospitals include the annual increase in the number of hospitalizations from after Thanksgiving to January.

The Minister of Health and Human Services Marielu Sades said in a press release: “The current pressure on hospital capacity is due to longer than average hospital stays and severe labor shortages, which are separate from the challenges posed by COVID.”

The Ministry of Public Health defines non-essential, non-emergency scheduled procedures as procedures for non-medical emergencies.

Steve Walsh, chief executive of the Massachusetts Association of Health and Hospitals, said part of the problem is that hospitals see large numbers of patients delaying care due to the pandemic.

According to Kevin Tabb, MD, CEO of Beth Israel Lahey Health, this has caused hospitals to face unprecedented capacity pressures.

Tabu said: “Although COVID-related hospitalization is far from reaching its peak, we are now taking care of an unusually large number of patients with other health problems.”

On Tuesday, the number of new COVID-19 cases each day increased by more than 2,600, while the number of newly confirmed coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts increased by 24.

According to reports, nearly 740 people were hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, of which about 150 were in the intensive care unit.

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