Hospitals throughout the Commonwealth have been providing emergency care throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the springtime, hospitals and other healthcare facilities now provide the full spectrum of healthcare services, including preventive and wellness care, and are required to adhere to the policies put in place under the EOHHS’ Reopening Guidance.
Massachusetts has maintained adequate hospital capacity throughout the pandemic, and currently has approximately 50 percent ICU capacity available. Additional ICU and non-ICU hospital capacity can be made readily available through the repurposing of other hospital spaces, should the need be required.
To continue to prepare for a potential second surge, the state is actively monitoring multiple public health and healthcare indicators, including testing capacity, COVID test positivity rate, new COVID cases and hospitalizations, COVID mortality, and the number of hospitals using surge capacity. As influenza season approaches, the state is also closely monitoring influenza indicators and prepared to address both epidemics as necessary.
Alternate Medical Sites
During the springtime, five temporary alternate medical sites (or “Field Medical Stations”) provided additional medical care capacity for hospitals in Massachusetts. The state is closely monitoring indicators and if additional capacity is required to support our hospital system, the state is prepared to rapidly reinstate alternate medical sites.
Crisis Standards of Care Planning Guidance for the COVID-19 Pandemic
On October 20th, 2020, DPH issued revised Crisis Standards of Care Planning Guidance for the COVID-19 Pandemic. (Accessible version)
This Guidance provides direction for the triage of critically ill patients in the event that the public health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic creates a demand for in-patient critical care resources that outstrips supply. It seeks to ensure that every patient has equitable access to care from which they might benefit, and that tragically difficult decisions about the allocation of scarce in-patient care resources must be grounded only on evidence-based criteria that are clear, transparent, and objective; biological factors related only to the likelihood and magnitude of benefit from the medical resources; and should at all times minimize inequitable outcomes. Hopefully, these guidelines will never need to be activated.