Nov. 24 (UPI) — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed an emergency order on Tuesday directing hospitals with limited capacity to reduce non-essential procedures amid the pandemic.
The Department of Public Health said procedures affected by the order are those scheduled in advance as they are not a medical emergency and where a delay will not cause adverse outcomes for patients.
The order will be active as of Monday and will remain in effect until either Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders or Baker decides it is no longer necessary.
The announcement was made as the state struggles with hospital staff shortages that have seen hospitals lose a combined 500 medical/surgical and intensive care unit beds across the state, which has also been combating increases in hospitalization and is expecting them to increase between Thanksgiving and January.
As of Tuesday, 89% of medical/surgical beds throughout the state were occupied as were 79% of ICU beds, according to state health data.
“The current strain on hospital capacity is due to longer than average hospitals stays and significant workforce shortages, separate and apart form the challenges brought by COVID,” Sudders said in a statement.
Sudders continued that COVID hospitalizations in that state is lower lower than almost all others, but this order “will ensure hospitals can serve all residents, including require treatment for COVID-19.”