Massachusetts Hospitals Being Ordered To Reduce Elective Procedures

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) – An updated hospital guidance will require hospitals in the Commonwealth with limited capacity to reduce non-essential, non-urgent procedures.

On Tuesday, the Baker administration, along with the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association (MHA), announced an updated hospital guidance to address several challenges plaguing the state's healthcare industry. The new guidance comes alongside an updated Covid-19 Public Health Emergency Order from the Department of Public Health (DPH).

“Effective November 29, 2021, any hospital or hospital system that has limited capacity must begin to reduce non-essential, non-urgent scheduled procedures to ensure adequate hospital capacity for immediate healthcare needs,” the Baker administration said in a statement. “This guidance, jointly developed by MHA and the Administration, was agreed upon based on several contributing factors.”

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These factors include a critical staffing shortage that has stemmed from the pandemic along with increased hospitalizations that come at this time of year. The shortage has also contributed to the loss of approximately 500 hospital beds in Massachusetts, the administration said.

"The current strain on hospital capacity is due to longer than average hospital stays and significant workforce shortages, separate and apart from the challenges brought on by Covid,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders.

While Covid hospitalizations remain relatively low across the state, Sudders said these challenges persist and the order will “ensure hospitals can serve all residents, including those who require treatment for COVID-19.”

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The DPH defines these elective procedures as “procedures that are scheduled in advance." Since these procedures are not classified as medical emergencies, delaying them "will not result in adverse outcomes to the patient’s health.” The administration said this reduction will not impact patients who require urgent and essential procedures.

“Our healthcare system and state leaders have done heroic work to mitigate this public health crisis over the past 20 months,” said Steve Walsh, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association. “To address these challenges, MHA worked closely with the Administration to develop a solution that is patient-focused and can ensure that safe, high-quality care remains available to everyone in need in the weeks ahead.”

As of Wednesday, 764 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 in Massachusetts. 165 of those patients were in the ICU and 89 were intubated.

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