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Massachusetts Hospitals With Limited Capacity Ordered To Reduce Elective Procedures

BOSTON (CBS) -- Massachusetts hospitals are once again being ordered to reduce elective procedures by the Baker Administration as the health care system is strained by workforce shortages amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"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 administration said in a statement.

The Department of Public Health defines these electives "as procedures that are scheduled in advance because the procedure is not a medical emergency and where delay will not result in adverse outcomes to the patient's health."

A staffing shortage brought on by the pandemic has contributed to the loss of about 500 medical and ICU hospital beds in the state, and facilities are only expected to get more crowded as is typical during the winter months.

"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," Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said in a statement. "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."

As of Monday, there were 708 people hospitalized for a coronavirus-related illness in the state. Last week, the state reported that out of 10,386 hospital beds in Massachusetts, 9,468 were occupied.

Related: Overloaded Health Care System Impacting 'Every Aspect Of Patient Care'

Nurses told WBZ-TV that some patients are coming in sicker because they have put off health care visits during the pandemic.

"While we recognize that delaying some prescheduled surgeries may present a significant hardship for patients, we believe it is a necessary step to assure that all of the Commonwealth's hospitals can continue to meet the needs of patients requiring emergency care," UMass Memorial Health CEO Eric Dickson said in a statement.


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