Massachusetts hospitals with limited capacity ordered to reduce electives

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Massachusetts is ordering hospitals with limited capacity to reduce elective procedures amid workforce shortages and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Effective Nov. 29, hospitals with limited capacity must "begin to reduce non-essential, non-urgent scheduled procedures to ensure adequate hospital capacity for immediate healthcare needs," according to a statement from Gov. Charlie Baker's administration and the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association.

This guidance, which will not affect urgent and essential procedures, was developed in response to several challenges affecting hospitals.

The governor's administration and the state hospital association said a critical staffing shortage, largely due to workforce shortages caused by the pandemic, contributed to the loss of about 500 medical/surgical and intensive care unit hospital beds across the state.

Hospitals are also grappling with capacity pressures due to the workforce shortages and longer than average hospital stays, which "require this concerted effort to preserve inpatient capacity" for COVID-19 and non-COVID patients, they said.

The order comes as seven-day COVID-19 case averages have risen in 28 states over the last week, including Massachusetts, according to data last updated Nov. 21 and tracked by Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

New daily COVID-19 hospitalizations in Massachusetts have also risen 45 percent over the last two weeks, according to data last updated Nov. 23 and tracked by The New York Times.

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