Milford Regional, local MA hospitals close to capacity amid COVID outbreak

MILFORD – As COVID-19 cases increase and local hospitals move closer to capacity, Milford Regional Medical Center has activated a disaster preparedness response in anticipation of a difficult winter ahead.

“Unfortunately, projections show that the unprecedented high demand for hospital resources does not appear to be abating,” Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Nicole Thyne said in an email interview. “In fact, we believe it will continue and increase as winter approaches.”

As part of its disaster response, the medical center will have a coordinated planning response “for what may happen this winter,” according to Thyne.

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The goal is to ensure that enough resources are available to continue to provide high quality patient care.

Only 26 intensive care beds available

This latest wave of COVID-19 cases has strained a health system under siege for nearly two years.

As of Monday, there were just 159 of the total 1,522 inpatient beds available in MetroWest and 26 of 182 intensive care unit beds available, according to state Department of Public Health data released Tuesday. Just over 90% of inpatient hospital beds statewide are occupied, as are 83% of intensive care beds.

MetroWest Medical Center had an average seven-day inpatient bed occupancy rate of 70.9% and an intensive care bed occupancy rate of 74.9% during the week of Dec. 10, according to the latest data from the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Marlborough Hospital reported higher rates, with an inpatient occupancy rate of 89.9% and an intensive care occupancy rate of 96.6%. Milford Regional’s inpatient occupancy rate was 87.4% and its intensive care bed occupancy rate was 97%, the data showed.

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According to Thyne, only 22% of patients hospitalized at Milford Regional test positive for COVID-19, and a small number of those patients are vaccinated.

“For a while, we remained at a high level of occupation in the medical center with a wide variety of conditions,” she said.

Lack of staff leads to shortage of beds

Bed shortages are a statewide problem; Massachusetts has 500 fewer acute-care inpatient beds than in January 2021, according to a note that Health Care Safety and Quality Director Elizabeth Kelley sent to CEOs of hospitals across the country on Tuesday. ‘State.

Kelley attributed the bed shortage to “unprecedented staff shortages” and noted that “historical trends indicate that hospitalization rates increase by more than 10% from the end of November to January”.

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Adequate staffing is crucial to maintaining capacity, according to Dr. Felipe Barbosa, an infectious disease specialist at MetroWest Medical Center.

“Often when we say we have no more beds it’s because we don’t have nurses to take care of the patient,” Barbosa said at the Mayor’s Community Hour meeting. Framingham, Yvonne Spicer, last week.

“If a nurse catches a cold, she’s one less person who can take care of a patient,” he said.

Governor Charlie Baker on Tuesday announced he would activate up to 500 National Guard members to help staff 55 acute care hospitals and 12 ambulance service providers. The National Guard will be deployed from Monday in roles such as non-emergency transport, security, catering and observation of patients at risk of harm.

What does this mean to you?

To maintain sufficient bed capacity and health personnel, the state Department of Public Health has directed hospitals with limited capacity to postpone or cancel all non-essential elective procedures that could result in hospitalization. .

The guidelines come into effect Monday at 12:01 am and exclude specialist hospitals and hospitals that maintain at least 15% of the available capacity in medico-surgical and intensive care beds.

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The reduction covers procedures that are not medical emergencies, in cases where the delay will not adversely affect a patient’s health, according to Kelley’s note. Notable exclusions are outpatient and preventive services, pediatric care and abortions.

Thyne said Milford Regional has had to modify services like surgery to preserve beds for unplanned admissions and schedule patients who may require hospitalization after their procedure. She did not specify what these changes consisted of.

What can you do?

To avoid further overloading the health care system, Thyne urged the public to get vaccinated and to “be vigilant in how you celebrate with your family and friends during the holiday season.”

Despite measures such as masking, vaccinations and social distancing, “there is no one perfect measure,” Barbosa said.

“It’s like a model of Swiss cheese,” he said. “There is no perfect prevention, but if you line up several imperfect interventions so that the holes in the Swiss cheese don’t line up, the virus cannot pass.”

Documents from the State House News Service were used in this report.

Abby Patkin is a multimedia reporter for the Daily News. Follow Abby on Twitter @AMPatkin. She can be contacted at [email protected]

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