Hospitals Contend with Surge

November 16, 2020 By: Bob Atlas, President & CEO

The warning lights that have flashed yellow for weeks, now show as solid red.

Maryland is seeing a dramatic rise in both COVID cases and hospitalizations—prompting the state to tighten public health measures and announce a surge plan for hospitals.

We were joined in a call Thursday by Dennis Schrader, Maryland Department of Health (MDH) Chief Operating Officer, and Dr. Ted Delbridge, Executive Director of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS). They said they heard our concerns about the wholesale stoppage of “elective and non-urgent” procedures in the spring and they hope to avoid that now. Yet, the State expects hospitals to consider very seriously what care can be safely deferred to preserve resources.

They also want hospitals to make full use of alternate care sites that were created in the spring and remain operational. MIEMSS will factor availability of these sites into their direction to EMS providers.

They told us hospitals will be called upon to support nursing facilities, as we were in the spring. Many of you have reported already being deluged with nursing facilities’ requests for staffing help—help that you are hard pressed to give.

They want hospitals to be more open to spreading the patient load, in part by joining with MIEMSS to launch and use an ICU traffic management resource.

Many details are still to be worked out. MHA will be sure to have a voice as we carve the path forward.

As we await more progress on vaccines and therapeutics, the immediate problem demands all hands on deck. That means ensuring we have the resources we need in hospitals to care for Marylanders—both those with COVID and those without—and encouraging research-backed public health measures, including masks, distancing, and proper hygiene.

This is a challenging time for your hospitals, your frontline caregivers, and all those who support them. Please continue to reach out to me or other MHA staff members to let us know how we can help.

Bob Atlas
President & CEO

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