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Baker orders hospitals facing bed shortages to reduce scheduled, nonessential procedures

Gov. Charlie Baker ordered hospitals in Massachusetts facing shortages of beds to reduce certain scheduled nonessential or non-urgent medical procedures, starting Monday, Nov. 29.

The updated guidance, released Tuesday, comes in response to critical staffing shortages across the state's health care system.

The move to reduce elective procedures would help ensure there are enough inpatient beds for "immediate healthcare needs," according to a Baker adminstration statement. Staffing shortages have "contributed to the loss of approximately 500 medical/surgical and ICU hospital beds across the Commonwealth."

In the statement, Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders 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. COVID hospitalizations in Massachusetts remain lower than almost every other state in the nation, but the challenges the healthcare system face remain, and this order will ensure hospitals can serve all residents, including those who require treatment for COVID-19.”

Dr. Eric Dickson, president and CEO at UMass Memorial Health, told WBUR Tuesday that his health system is overcapacity.

"We've got 44 patients in the emergency department waiting for a bed," he said. "Six of those require ICU beds, and at this point, we don't have beds for them."

State leaders said the order was made in collaboration with the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association.

With reporting from WBUR's Matt Ledin and Jonathan Cain

Related:

Lisa Creamer Twitter Managing Editor, Digital
Lisa Creamer is WBUR's digital managing editor.

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