Governor of Massachusetts: Some hospitals are forced to postpone non-essential procedures

Any Massachusetts hospital or hospital system facing limited patient care capacity will have to cut non-essential, non-urgent scheduled procedures starting Monday, in accordance with an emergency order announced Tuesday by Gov. Charlie Baker.

The purpose of the order is to protect patients and medical staff – and to ensure that urgent medical needs can be met – in response to a range of concerns that are putting pressure on state hospitals.

The guidance, developed by the Massachusetts Administration and the Massachusetts Health and Hospitals Association, was based on several factors, including what officials called critical staff shortages as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This staff shortage has resulted in the loss of approximately 500 hospital beds in hospitals / surgical hospitals and intensive care units across the state. Other factors putting pressure on hospitals include the annual increase in hospital admissions, usually seen between Thanksgiving and January.

“The current hospital burden is associated with longer than average hospital stays and significant staff shortages, in addition to the challenges posed by COVID,” Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sadders said in a press release.

The Department of Public Health defines non-essential, non-urgent routine procedures as non-emergency medical procedures.

Steve Walsh, CEO of the Massachusetts Association for Health and Hospitals, said part of the problem is that hospitals are seeing an influx of patients who have delayed treatment due to the pandemic.

This has caused hospitals to face an unprecedented capacity load, according to Kevin Tabb, MD, CEO of Beth Israel Lahey Health.

“While the number of COVID-related hospitalizations is far from what it was at its peak, we are now serving an unusually large number of patients with other health problems,” Tabb said.

The number of new daily COVID-19 cases increased by more than 2,600 on Tuesday, while the number of new confirmed coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts rose 24.

On Tuesday, there were about 740 people hospitalized due to confirmed cases of COVID-19, of which about 150 were in intensive care units.

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