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'ERs Bursting At The Seams': Nurses Plead For Help As Experts Predict Long Rebound From COVID

BOSTON (CBS) - "I broke my jaw," said a college student named Woody outside Mass General Hospital in Boston Friday. "They...checked if they had to wire it shut or not." He knew the well-publicized backlogs in hospitals would make it difficult to book time with a specialist. "I mean that's going to happen understandably." He felt lucky to finally find one, considering the outcry from healthcare workers across the state.

"In some facilities, they've had patients in the hall on regular inpatient units," said Mary Havicek Cornacchia, who's with the Massachusetts Nurses Association, which sent a letter to Governor Charlie Baker. "We are closer than we have ever been to the collapse of the healthcare system," it said.

Among other things, it asks for stricter visitor policies, on-site testing for employees, more N95 masks, and a return to the 10-day quarantine policy. "The ERs are bursting at the seams. There just aren't enough beds, and there have been cases where we've had to make phone calls to other states to try to facilitate an ICU bed for a critically ill patient," said Cornacchia.

UMass Amherst COVID-19 forecaster Nick Reich says while the forecast for the current surge is optimistic, the one for hospitals is not. "Even if we're going to see a plateauing and decrease in new hospitalizations, that burden on the healthcare isn't going away in the next few weeks," he said.

UMass Memorial Health Care CEO Eric Dickson has said it will take a long time for hospitals to rebound. "I see a very turbulent time for the next couple of years in healthcare," Dickson said. "You've got a high degree of burnout in the workforce, and you've got financial stress."

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