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ICUs Reaching Capacity Across Massachusetts As COVID Cases Continue To Rise

WORCESTER (CBS) -- As the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise, ICUs in hospitals across the state are feeling the burden.

"ICUs are extremely busy," said Dr. Nicholas Smyrnios, who is Medical Director for Patient Safety and Medical Director of Medical ICU at UMass Memorial in Worcester.

To prepare for the surge, he told WBZ-TV his team had to create new ICU units.

"We took our two medical intensive care units and we moved them to a different part, swapped them with other ICUs, so that the COVID patients can be in the rooms with the correct ventilation," Smyrnios said.

Health and Humans Services Secretary Mary Lou Sudders said hospitals are at capacity full.

"Our hospital capacity limits are being stretched to the limit," Sudders said.

Staff nurses at Tufts Medical Center ICU Sandy Keenan said the surge is real. They also had to open additional ICU spaces.

"These patients are critically ill. They require an incredible amount of care. It's very similar to the last surge," Keenan said.

Aside from the limited amount of space hospitals are facing, another big concern is the limitation on personnel. There's simply not enough help to deal with the amount of care that is needed.

"Our ability to take care of people is limited by the number of respiratory therapists we have, by the number of nurses that we have," Dr. Smyrnios said.

To help alleviate some of the strain, the state has opened up two COVID-19 field hospitals at the DCU Center in Worcester and the UMass Lowell Recreation Center in Lowell.

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