Staffing shortages spur Massachusetts hospital to divert ambulances

Framingham, Mass.-based MetroWest Medical Center diverted local ambulances from its hospital the past three weekends, citing staffing issues, the Framingham Source reported Jan. 4.

The hospital, owned by Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare, reported it was short staffed in labor and delivery and did not want ambulances to bring in pregnant women. It has closed several service lines in the last few years, and some worry labor and delivery is next on the chopping block, according to the report.

Previously, the hospital was warned by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health not to divert ambulances after it did so for multiple days in April. CEO Ava Collins, MetroWest's CEO at the time, wrote the hospital had IT issues and needed to go "code black,"according to the report; the state said that was unacceptable.

This time, MetroWest Medical Center informed the mayor of the first weekend of labor and delivery ambulance diversions, saying it would occur for only one shift. However, the Framingham Source said its sources said it happened for the last three weekends.

According to the report, some labor and delivery shifts over those holiday weekends had no registered nurses on shift or only one or two for the department.

"With regard to the hospital, I've been aware for several weekends now that they've been on diversion, especially for labor and delivery patients," Framingham Mayor Charlie Sisitsky told the Framingham Source. "And, we didn't even know about it at first. … And then I learned that it happened again over the New Year's Eve weekend and then today in the mail I got an anonymous letter from a delivery room nurse who quit on the spot. … She feels it was so bad she filed an anonymous complaint with the Department of Public Health."

Becker's has reached out to the hospital for comment.

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